Frankfurt / Main (dpa / lhe) - For days now, the Frankfurt artist Marcel Walldorf has been grinding, priming and painting on a special kind of sculpture: the snarling Tyrannosaurus Rex is only a few decades old, but unlike the original petrified skeletons in the museum itself, the traces of time could not be overlooked. Since the beginning of the week, the artist has been restoring the dinosaur figure, which is one of the most popular photo motifs for visitors to the Main metropolis. "The dinosaurs are actually extinct, but this one is being symbolically revitalized and kept alive," Walldorf said on Friday.
But how many "real" dinosaurs are in the sculpture? After all, the dinosaurs were long extinct when humans first made cave paintings - not to mention wildlife cameras such as those available to researchers today. "It's mostly imagination," admits project manager Philipe Havlik about the design of the dinosaur. "We do know imprints of the scaly skin of T-Rex, but no melanosomes." These are color capsules that are enclosed in the soft tissue and have been found in Chinese predatory dinosaurs, for example.
There were and still are fashions: "Up until the 1970s, reconstructions looked more like Godzilla - clumsy lizard creatures, often colored green," says Havlik. The posture of the representations then changed significantly in the years 1980 to 1990: Since then, the tail no longer lies clumsily on the ground, but swings dynamically in the air. "The stripe pattern is based on other dinosaurs with partially preserved color patterns, but is also a comparison with modern animals and helps them to camouflage."
The melanosomes mentioned can be detected in various dinosaurs, for example in the Bavarian primeval bird Archeopteryx. According to the information, however, there is a disadvantage: only red tones and light-dark shades can be covered in this way. "This leaves a lot of room for speculation," says Havlik. "Maybe T-Rex even had some kind of feather-like appendages."
The Tyrannosaurus Rex lived 66 to 68 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period and was distributed in today's US states of Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota, among other places. Havlik emphasizes that no other dinosaur is as iconic as the T-Rex. He is representative of all large dinosaurs and was also one of the last of their group, which died out 66 million years ago, probably due to a meteorite impact.