The 2022 Cheltenham Science Festival starts next month (7th – 12th June) and as always, this festival is jam-packed with amazing events, presentations and activities covering just about every aspect of the sciences. The Earth sciences are strongly represented once again this year and award-winning palaeontologist Dr Dean Lomax will be delivering a talk entitled “Mary Anning and the Sea Dragons” at the centrally located Helix Theatre on the evening of the 8th June.

Dr Dean Lomax working on the skull of the Rutland ichthyosaur.
Dr Dean Lomax working on the skull of the Rutland ichthyosaur, the largest and most complete ichthyosaur fossil ever found in the UK. Picture credit: Matthew Power.

Hic Sunt Dracones – “Here be Dragons”

The Latin expression “hic sunt dracones” which translates as “here be dragons”, was used by Medieval cartographers to highlight unexplored territories on maps or regions where monsters were thought to roam. Join Dr Lomax on a guided tour through 200 years of fossil discoveries, shedding light on the ichthyosaurs, those enigmatic “sea dragons” that thrived during the time of the dinosaurs.

In “Mary Anning and the Sea Dragons”, Dr Lomax, a recent recipient of the prestigious Halstead Award from the Geologists’ Association, tells the amazing story of these marvellous marine reptiles, from the first fossil discoveries and the work of Mary Anning right up to the latest research including the excavation of the monstrous “Rutland Sea Dragon”, led by Dr Dean. Described as one of the most important finds in British palaeontological history, this huge ten-metre-long specimen is the biggest and most complete ichthyosaur fossil ever found in the UK.

Aerial view of the Rutland ichthyosaur excavation site.
An aerial view of the Rutland ichthyosaur excavation site. Dr Dean Lomax provides the scale. Hic sunt dracones! Picture credit: Matthew Power.

Following in the Footsteps of Mary Anning

Mary Anning was an extraordinary pioneering palaeontologist from Lyme Regis in Dorset. She discovered the first ichthyosaurs (or “sea dragons”) brought to the attention of science and helped to put the science of palaeontology firmly on the map. Palaeontologist, author and renowned expert on ichthyosaurs Dr Lomax has spent much of his illustrious career following in the footsteps of Mary Anning, even acting as a consultant for a short film about her exploits fittingly entitled “Sea Dragon” which will be shown as part of Dean’s presentation at the Helix Theatre (Wednesday, June 8th 5pm-6pm).

Dr Dean Lomax and ichthyosaur fossils.
Dr Dean Lomax with ichthyosaur fossils on display at the Natural History Museum London. Picture credit: Dr Dean Lomax.

Mary Anning and the “Sea Dragons”

Dean’s presentation – “Mary Anning and the Sea Dragons” is ideal for families and for children from seven years plus. Plot a course to the Helix Theatre for 5pm on June 8th to catch up with one of the UK’s leading scientists in the field of palaeontology.

For further details and to book this event at the Cheltenham Science Festival: Dr Dean Lomax – “Mary Anning and the Sea Dragons”.

A 21st Century Palaeontologist

Dr Lomax is currently involved with several important research programmes as well as media projects, and although he spends his working hours looking back into time, he is very much a 21st century palaeontologist with a passion for outreach work and science communication. Dean has recently written three books, reflecting his wide-ranging interests and engaging communication style.

As always, Dean will be happy to answer questions and to chat to any budding young palaeontologists, their parents and any fossil enthusiasts and he will be signing copies of his latest books – “Locked in Time”, “Prehistoric Pets” and “Dinosaurs Ten Things You Should Know”.

Three books written by Dr Dean Lomax.
Dean has recently completed three books – “Locked in Time” (left) which is illustrated by Bob Nicholls. “Prehistoric Pets” (centre) and (right) “Dinosaurs 10 Things You Should Know”. Dr Lomax will be signing copies at this Cheltenham Festival Event.

Event Details

  • Event: Cheltenham Science Festival.
  • Presentation: Mary Anning and the “Sea Dragons” by Dr Dean Lomax.
  • Venue: Helix Theatre (located on the Cheltenham Science Festival site at Imperial Square, directly behind Cheltenham Town Hall).
  • Date: Wednesday June 8th.
  • Time: 5pm to 6pm (Ticket price £7.00)

Book “Mary Anning and Sea Dragons”: Book Tickets for the Presentation.

Visit the Cheltenham Science Festival website here: The Cheltenham Science Festival.