When David Attenborough needs to know more about dinosaurs he turns to one man – Dr Ben Garrod.
Dr Ben Garrod is an English evolutionary biologist, primatologist and broadcaster and a Teaching Fellow at Anglia Ruskin University. He completed a doctorate at University College London and the Zoological Society of London. Ben has presented several television shows,
including ‘Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur’ with Sir David Attenborough, ‘Hyper Evolution: Rise of the Robots’ for BBC Four and ‘The Day the Dinosaurs Died’ on BBC Two.
…Do you want to know if a Triceratops lived in the Jurassic period or what a Stegosaurus had for breakfast or just be more dino-savy? Then, come a meet the TV presenter, author and all- round dinosaur aficionado, who will be touring the UK this spring.
‘So You Think You Know About Dinosaurs’ is the hit stage show taking the audience on an exciting pre-historic adventure as Dr Ben talks about the deadliest predators that ever roamed the planet. Yes, dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus Rex, Allosaurus and Spinosaurus would have walked or swam right where you are now.
Pitting the knowledge of unwitting parents against their all-knowing kids, Dr Ben presents an interactive, educational and highly entertaining show using film footage from the BBC’s ‘Planet Dinosaur’ and photos of his own palaeontological dinosaur digs, he will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about dinosaurs – and more.
photo by Tom Warry
Here on the blog, Ben kindly shares some ah-mazing dino facts to wow your kids with so enjoy!
My two kids were wowed by them!!
Over to Dr Ben Garrod,
– Dinosaurs were around for a very long time … for well over 150 million years, in fact. They were around for so long that if you placed a Stegosaurus, a Tyrannosaurus rexand you on a timeline, then the T. rex would be closer to you than it would be to the Stegosaurus. And T. rex has been dead for 66 million years, remember.
– Science never stops. We are making new discoveries all the time. That’s why it’s so great being a scientist. It’s the same with dinosaurs. So far, we know of around 1000 or so species but at the moment, palaeontologists are describing one new species every week. Lots more to discover.
– The first three species of dinosaurs known to science were all discovered and named in the UK. The first one, Megalosaurus, was first discovered in 1676, after a long thigh bone (a femur) was found in Oxfordshire. The second species was Iguanodon, and Hylaeosaurus the third. It was still a long time until we actually understood what a dinosaur really was and it was only in 1842 that Richard Owen, a very famous Palaeontologist (and the guy behind the construction of the Natural History Museum in London) introduced the name ‘dinosaur’, which means ‘terrible lizard’.
– Huge differences in the sizes, shapes and behaviours of dinosaurs. We call this diversity. We often imagine dinosaurs as huge beasts and yeah, some were. But there were a lot of smaller ones, too. The largest was Patagotitan, which may have been a staggering 37 m long and weighed maybe as much as 69 tonnes, which is the as 14 or 15 big African elephants. At the opposite end of the scale were some very small animals. One of the dinkiest dinos (or maybe even the smallest) was Epidexipteryx, which was one weird looking critter. It was about as long as a pigeon and only weighed half as much.
– You may have seen Velociraptors in films and thought they were pretty terrifying. I remember seeing them in a film for the first time. Huge predators chasing kids through a kitchen. Okay, they would have been incredibly successful predators but these films get one little thing wrong. Well, it’s one big thing, really. Their size. They weren’t huge killers but were quite very small. The animals you see in films are actually based on a relative of the Velociraptor called Deinonychus – believe it or not, the real Velociraptorwas about the size of a turkey. So, the next time you think about a Velociraptor, imagine it as a ‘terror turkey’ and you’ll have a more scientifically accurate idea.
– A lot of the things we think of as dinosaurs are very different from dinosaurs. All the marine predators such as the ichthyosaurs, pliosaurs and plesiosaurs were not dinosaurs. They were prehistoric marine reptiles. What about those flying dinosaurs, the pterosaurs? Nope, they weren’t dinosaurs, either. They were prehistoric flying reptiles. Both groups were like dinosaurs but were true reptiles. What about that terrifying Triassic predator, Dimetrodon? Huge animal, with huge teeth and a huge sail along it’s back. Not even close to a dinosaur. In fact, Dimetrodon is more closely related to you and me than it is to Tyrannosaurus rex. There have been so many incredible animals which looked like dinosaurs, acted like them and even sometimes lived alongside them but not all cool prehistoric animals are dinosaurs.
– If you were to travel way back in time, maybe 10 or 20 years ago, palaeontologists would have said that we’d never know what colour dinosaurs were. But now, we can actually uncover the colour of some well-preserved dinosaur fossils. You can’t actually see the colours in front of you but you can tell by looking for microscopic patterns. On feathers, in particular. In small flying dinosaurs such as Anchiornis, we can look at fossil feathers and see tiny structures called melanosomes. They’re the same tiny structures found in your hair, which gives it its colour. The size, shape and organisation of these little molecules determine different colours. Researchers looked at melanosomes from feathers found on birds alive today to get a good background understanding of which melanosomes (and patterns) create which colours. Then, by identifying the patterns and shapes of melanosomes from Anchiornis fossil feathers, the scientists were able to understand what colour the dinosaurs would have been. So, what colour was Anchiornis? It was black and white with a red head crest and red cheeks.
– We’ve all had those bad days . . . maybe it’s raining and you can’t go out and play or you have a lot of homework, but 66 million years ago, the dinosaurs had the ultimate bad day. Right at the end of the Cretaceous period, when some of the most famous dinosaurs such as Triceratops and T. rex were roaming the planet, a speck appeared in the sky. It was an asteroid, travelling at over 30,000 kilometres per hour. Within a matter of seconds, it had crashed into the shallow sea just north or where Mexico is now. The force of the impact is estimated to be the same as one billion nuclear bombs going off at once . . . the rest, as they say, is history! Nothing larger than a sheep survived and 75% of life on Earth was wiped out, including the dinosaurs.
– Although we often say that dinosaurs are extinct, it isn’t true. They are still alive today and I think you might even see one by the time you go to bed this evening, because . . . birds are dinosaurs. Actual dinosaurs. They’re not ‘like dinosaurs’ or ‘sort of dinosaurs’, they are living dinosaurs. They’re just as much part of the dinosaur family as Spinosaurus, Velociraptor and even Tyrannosaurus rex. For the last one hundred years or so, we have had a good understanding that the two groups were very closely related but it was only in the last 20 years or so that we can finally say that yes, birds are dinosaurs.
Photo by Tom Warry
‘SO YOU THINK YOU KNOW ABOUT DINOSAURS?’ 2019 UK TOUR LISTINGS