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Public Lecture: Dinosaurs - Changing Views In The Last 200 Years

20 February 2024
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Event type:
Hybrid, Lecture
Organised by:
Public Lectures 2024, Geological Society Events, Megalosaurus Month
Hybrid In person at Burlington House and Virtual via Zoom
Event status:

Event details

When Megalosaurus was named in 1824, nobody had any idea what a dinosaur was. The new beast was identified as either a huge crocodile or lizard, up to 100 m long. It took many more finds in the next 50 years to get a clearer idea of the amazing diversity of dinosaurs. But this opened a new debate behind the scenes: what did these amazing reptiles look like when they were alive and how did they function? Some professors said this was all mad speculation, but others decided to work with artists to show dinosaurs as living creatures. This tension around ’how far you should go’ in turning bones into flesh and blood still continues today, even in the world of 3D animation. In the end, what do we know about dinosaurs and what is speculative?

Megalosaurus Month

2024 marks the 200th anniversary since the first scientific description of a non-avian dinosaur by William Buckland (1784–1856), Professor of Geology at Oxford University. His paper "Notice on the Megalosaurus or great Fossil Lizard of Stonesfield" was presented at a meeting of the Geological Society on 20 February 1824.

Throughout February the Society will be celebrating this important marker in the history of science with a number of events about or inspired by dinosaurs. The exciting programme will include drawing classes, lectures, family activities and school visits.

The focal point of the celebrations will be a life-sized replica of a skeleton of a Megalosaurus which will be installed in the Upper Library of the Geological Society, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London from the 19–29 February 2024.

Events taking place during Megalosaurus Month can be viewed here.


Michael Benton is a palaeontologist who studies dinosaurs and mass extinctions. One of his great discoveries was to kick off a new field of research in determining the colour of dinosaurs. He was awarded an OBE in 2021 for his work in the public understanding of science and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 2014 for his fundamental contributions to understanding the history of life. He is fascinated by the transformation of palaeobiology from a speculative subject to testable science and led one of these discoveries – how to determine the colour of dinosaurs, rated as one of the top scientific discoveries of the 2010s. 

Michael has supervised more than 70 PhD students, and was founder of the Bristol MSc in Palaeobiology, which has welcomed 450 students since its foundation. He has written some 600 scientific papers and more than 50 books on a broad range of palaeontological topics, from textbooks to pop sci. His books include textbooks in palaeobiology, as well all the latest science in Dinosaurs Rediscovered (Thames & Hudson, 2020), how we know exactly what some dinosaurs looked like, The Dinosaurs: New Visions of a Lost World (Thames & Hudson, 2021), and mass extinctions, in Extinctions: How Life Survives, Adapts and Evolves (Thames & Hudson, 2023).

Date & Time

This event will take place on Tuesday 20 February 2024 at 6pm (TBC).


This Public Lecture will take place in person at Burlington House, Piccadilly and online via Zoom.


Final Programme to be confirmed shortly.


This lecture is free to attend, however we are a registered charity (number: 210161) and we would welcome donations. If you would like to donate, you can do so here.

You can register for both in person and virtual tickets here.

If you wish to join our mailing list please email

Geolsoc Contact

Conference Office

The Geological Society
Burlington House