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Public Lecture: Could we ever know how dinosaurs thought or behaved?

23 May 2018
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Event type:
Evening meeting, Lecture
Organised by:
2018 Year of Resources, Geological Society Events
The Geological Society, Burlington House
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The last non-avian dinosaur trod the Earth about 66 million years ago, therefore the task of researching such ephemeral topics as thought and behaviour in such long-dead creatures presents us with many scientific imponderables: it is, arguably, one of the ultimate forensic-style challenges.

This lecture explores some of the lines of evidence and deductions that have accumulated over many decades of research by palaeobiologists. Of course all this is inference, that is to say based on our knowledge of the biology of living creatures that are distant relatives of dinosaurs. It is inevitable that something as delicate and fragile as a dinosaur brain would be the very first thing to decay after death and that no trace of brain tissue could ever be preserved ... or is it? Strange things can happen during the process of fossilisation!


David Norman, Cambridge University 

David is a palaeobiologist, based at the Department of Earth Sciences, Cambridge University. He trained at Leeds University and then King's College London-The Natural History Museum, where he worked on the dinosaur named Iguanodon. He worked in Brussels on the extraordinary 'herd' of Iguanodon discovered at Bernissart and later returned to London (Queen Mary College) and then Oxford University before working for HM Government. 

After his government work he became the 1st Director of the Sedgwick Museum, a post that he held for 20 years. He has been involved in palaeobiological research on all continents (except Antartica), has trained some of the leading vertebrate palaeontologists of the present day and has written several books on dinosaurs and their biology. A Very Short Introduction: Dinosaurs(2nd Ed. 2017. Oxford University Press) summarises his research in an accessible format.

All past lectures can be viewed online on our Past Meeting Resources Page.

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