Doncaster’s Dean brings dinosaurs to our homes

Doncaster's Dean Lomax and Ellie Harrison star in Dinosaur Britain
Doncaster's Dean Lomax and Ellie Harrison star in Dinosaur Britain

Prepare to discover incredible facts about dinosaurs in Britain.

Doncaster man Dean Lomax teams up with presenter Ellie Harrison to bring the fascinating world of prehistoric giants to our television screens in a new two-part documentary next week.

Dinosaur Britain will show how over 50 species of dinosaur roamed our country, with stunning details about their lifestyle revealed purely by their bones.

At 25, Dean Lomax of Balby is a relatively young palaeontologist, but his pervading interest in the dinosaurs of 200 million years ago led to his being series advisor and on-screen expert of the programme that is based partly on his book, Dinosaurs of the British Isles.

This story of British dinosaurs is so far untold, said Dean, adding: “This documentary is for everybody out there who loves dinosaurs and yet never knew they were so close to home.”

Viewers will learn about resident Giant Sauropods that were the length of two double-decker buses, and agile carnivorous pack-hunters known as Raptors that were discovered in Dorset, along with three types of Tyrannosaur.

“We will show how Britain has advanced our understanding of the study of palaeontology and its significant role in helping to literally sculpt the world we live in today,” said Dean, who immersed himself in th subject over eight years ago, following an early fascination with dinosaurs and evolution.

Despite the fact that dinosaurs lived on earth for 165 million years, no-one even knew they had existed up to 200 years ago.

The first bone in the world to be discovered was just north of Oxford, buried 40 feet underground.

In Dinosaurs of Britain, Ellie shows how a miner made the find of part of a large jaw packed with teeth down a slate mine. it remains in Oxford today.

Dean examines the specimen and explains that although large fossilised bones had been unearthed in other parts of the world, no-one knew what they were. In China, they were thought to be proof of dragons and here in Britain the train of thought had gone along the lines of a race of super-sized humans.

Dean explained: “Reverend William Buckland was a brilliant geologist and palaeontologist. He started to study the teeth, and if you look closely you can see teeth coming through. He recognised this as a replacement tooth and realised that reptiles continually replace their teeth and thought this must be some huge extinct reptile.”

So in 1824, Buckland named the find Megalosaurus, or ‘great lizard’. As the world’s first recorded account of a dinosaur, it lived in Britain 167 million years ago.

Ellie questions Dean on screen about a famous scene in Jurassic Park, where a raptor opens doors. Raptors, or ‘Nuthetes destructor’ couldn’t have done this, said Dean, but they would have been feathered “for display, courtship or warmth.” These predators were vicious, although just about the size of a turkey. They stalked victims in the Stonehenge region.

The appeal of Dinosaurs in Britain will extend to everyone from wide-eyed children to older people keen to find out which dinosaurs have been found in Britain, and where (maybe on their doorsteps).

Making this documentary has realised one of Dean’s ambitions, he said, adding: “For a long time, I’ve wanted to help others understand and appreciate the pivotal role that Britain has played in palaeontology, natural history and evolution. Such programmes allow viewers a snippet in to an ancient world that we can see through the examination of fossils. They help people to understand and appreciate our planet and the organisms living today, along with those long extinct.

“The more we know about the past, the better prepared we are for the future.

“I’ve been working as a palaeontologist for some eight years, trotting around the globe, digging up dinosaurs and describing new species to science. Palaeontology is my life and passion and I hope to continue to engage others withn this most fascinating science.”

Dean has a message for youngsters too, that he is very keen to get across. He said: “If you have a passion for something, don’t let that passion leave you, even if others try to deter you. Work hard, stay dedicated and you can achieve.”

Ellie said: “I’ve been amazed by the sheer variety of dinosaurs that once roamed Britain. their story began right here, but my journey has only just begun.”

See Dinosaur Britain on ITV, Monday, August 31, from 9pm to 10pm.