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British Dinosaurs - Dinosaurs of the UK

Updated on September 11, 2014

Which Dinosaurs Lived in Britain?

Want to learn about British dinosaurs. That is, dinosaurs whose remains have been discovered in Britain.

We knew that dinosaurs certainly had been discovered in the UK and that we had a strong history in paleontology. But we didn't actually know which species had lived in Britain. After my then 3.5-year-old son and I had a discussion about this I set out to find out about the history of dinosaur discovery in Britain.

It turns out that some pretty impressive prehistoric creatures were first discovered in Britain and that British scientists are still making new discoveries today. And we discovered lots of interesting facts. What is the connection between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and British dinosaurs? Who got started in paleontology as a young girl in the early 1800s? Where is Dinosaur Island? Read on to find out.

Books about British Dinosaurs

You can view the books about British dinosaurs mentioned in this article at Amazon UK.

Why so many dinosaurs in Britain?

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Island

"Britain has moved around a lot in its position in relation to the continents, and was in the middle of the northern super-continent during the Jurassic period before it later broke in half into North America and Eurasia.

"Britain seems to have been at the crossroads in the middle, so any dinosaurs shared between North America and Eurasia must have gone through what is now the UK." - Dr Darren Naish, honorary researcher in palaeobiology.

UK Dinosaur History

It must have been a fascinating time. Discovering and coming to understand the huge prehistoric beasts that had roamed the earth millions of years ago.

The following figures played a key role in early dinosaur paleontology:

Gideon Mantell (1790-1852) was an English doctor from Sussex. Gideon was a paleontologist throughout his life and contributed greatly to the field as we shall see. One of the stories told about Mantell is that his wife found a tooth that looked like a very large Iguana tooth and it was many years before Mantell managed to complete the skeleton (can you guess which dinosaur it turned out to be?)

Mary Anning (1799-1847) was a fossil collector who gained a reputation as a paleontologist. She lived in Lyme Regis and made many important prehistoric discoveries. She started fossil collecting to earn money and although women and the lower classes were not respected in scientific circles, Mary managed to make an impact.

(Benjamin) Waterhouse Hawkins (1807-1894) was an English sculptor and artist with an interest in natural history. He built the life-size Crystal Palace Dinosaurs under the scientific direction of Richard Owen. To celebrate the creation of the models, Waterhouse Hawkins invited the scientists of the day to a dinner party in a most unusual location ...

Sir Richard Owen (1809-1892) was an English biologist and paleontologist. He's best known for inventing the term Dinosauria (Terrible Lizard). Owen was a central character during the early days of dinosaur discovery. Early on he was well respected but he was an outspoken character who had various disagreements with his contemporaries.

Find out more about the early dinosaur experts in the following books:

"It may seem surprising but dinosaurs are actually a British "invention" of the early 19th century. The name dinosaur was coined in 1842 by an English anatomist Richard Owen, a highly ambitious, machiavellian schemer and villain of Deborah Cadbury's The Dinosaur Hunters: A True Story of Scientific Rivalry and the Discovery of the Prehistoric World. Her hero is Gideon Mantell, a practising doctor, who found and first described many of the bones of the beasts that subsequently became known as dinosaurs. Full of quotes from contemporary sources, The Dinosaur Hunters brilliantly evokes the Dickensian world of early Victorian science and society. "

A Novel about Mary Anning

Remarkable Creatures is a novel based on the life of Mary Anning, the famous female early paeleontologist from Lyme Regis.

This is a good one for the Mums of dinosaur fans.

It's written by Tracy Chevalier, the author of The Girl with the Pearl Earring.

A fascinating Historical Picture Book

"In the mid-nineteenth century an artist named Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins had one ambition: to show the world what dinosaurs lookd like. His astonishing life-size models impressed Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and wowed the crowds at the famous Crystal Place exhibition. Brought vividly to life by award-winning illustrator Brian Selznick, this intriguing true story will captivate readers of any age. "

This book really is beautiful, it's one that my boys have returned to repeatedly, first with me reading to them and then with them reading in to me.

Mary Anning Story for Children

"Many children today are fascinated by fossils and dinosaurs and this interesting book will appeal to them. Designed for the confident reader and made accessible by an illustrated format and large typeface, this is the true story of Mary Anning, born in Lyme Regis Dorset in 1799, and describes her lifelong fascination with collecting fossils. At the time, this was a most unusual hobby, especially for a girl, and the title of the book, Stone Girl Bone Girl, is part of a rhyme made up by the other children of the town to tease young Mary. "

Now we'll look at some British Dinosaurs


Megalosaurus was one of the first dinosaurs to be discovered and was the first to get an official name. The first Megalosaurus bone was found at Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire in 1676, although they didn't know what it was at the time. That bone is now lost but is well documented. Early reconstructions show Megalosaurus on all fours, but he walked on two legs. Megalosaurus was a large carnivore - I'm surprised it isn't better known in the UK.


Iguanodon is probably the best known of the dinosaurs that lived in the British Isles. Iguanodon was a large herbivore. Iguanodon was discovered in 1822 by Gideon Mantell. Well actually, it's said that his wife found the first remains of Iguanodon - a tooth.


Scelidosaurus was a herbivore and an armoured dinosaur, related to Ankylosaurus. Scelidosaurus has only been found in Charmouth, Dorset. Scelidosaurus was named by Sir Richard Owen in 1859.

Scelidosaurus Facts and Resources

We first came across Scelidosaurus in Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs. Harry finds a bucketful of dinosaurs in the attic and takes them to the library to find out their names, he names the first one with "You are my Scelidosaurus".

Ichthyosaur and Plesiosaurus - Marine Reptiles

Ichthyosaur and Plesiosaurus are not technically dinosaurs. They are prehistoric marine reptiles. Lyme Regis and their famous inhabitant Mary Anning played a key role in their discover.

Many Anning contributed greatly to the discovery of prehistoric creatures. She lived in Lyme Regis on the Dorset coast and started fossil hunting as a child. She went on to find some of the first Icthyosaur bones and to discover Plesiosaurus - both prehistoric marine reptiles.


Baryonyx is a favourite in our house. My older son learned about Baryonyx at preschool and came home and told us all about him - he was "a kind of Spinosaurus with lots of teeth and a head like a crocodile". We hadn't come across him before this, but my son got it pretty much right.

Baryonyx was discovered very recently in 1983 which explains why it wasn't one of the dinosaurs I grew up hearing about.

Baryonyx Facts and Resources

The Isle of Wight is known as Dinosaur Island for good reason. Baryonyx and many other British dinosaurs have been found here.

The Isle of Wight is known as Dinosaur Island for good reason. Baryonyx and many other British dinosaurs have been found here.

British Dinosaur Resources

Some resources to help you find out even more about British dinosaurs.

I Believe in Dinosaurs by Jez Kemp

Couldn't resist a link to this track by British singer Jez Kemp.

Let us know what you think. And if you enjoyed finding out about British Dinosaurs please click on the thumbs up at the top or bottom of this page.


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      i making animatronics dinsaur at the moment anyone interested to rent hem? also i have animatronic dinsoaur costum similar with waking with the dinosaur show email me DinomatronicsInc@yahoo, or check my website

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Interesting information. I didn't know anything about dinosaur finds in the UK until I read your lens.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      A fluttering of ghostly angel wings have passed on by and sent blessings your way :)

    • blessedmomto7 profile image


      7 years ago

      Neat lens.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 

      8 years ago

      Dinosaurs are always fascinating, esp. British 'natives'. Thanks

    • howdoyouspellst profile image


      8 years ago

      Very cool lens! Dinosaurs are so interesting, and you and your family seem to know a lot of facts!

    • MagpieNest profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @Swisstoons: Very good, we like dinosaur jokes here :-)

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 

      8 years ago from Michigan

      I very interesting lens! I see I should've come here first before tackling your Dinosaur Trivia Quiz lens. I had fun with it, but obviously would've scored higher if I had read about Sir Reginald and about the Iguanadon's spike! By the way, who carried off that missing Megalosaurus bone? A Dogosaurus Rex? Thumbs up!

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 

      8 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      I like the idea of "British Dinosaurs!


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