How much do you know about dinosaurs? Let Ben Garrod be your guide
and live on Freeview channel 276
Those are exactly the questions Professor Ben Garrod will be exploring when he takes the “most up-to-date dinosaur show in 66 million years” on the road. Ideal for anyone aged 5+, Ultimate Dinosaurs will take in dates including November 4 at Guildford’s Electric Theatre.
Dinosaurs have always held a special place in our collective fascination: “I don't really know why,” Ben admits, “but I do think part of it is that it's a really safe way to explore our fears. I can remember being scared in the dark and also you always felt that there were potential monsters under the bed. And with dinosaurs especially things like T Rex we all learn that they have got teeth the size of bananas but the point is that we can learn that in safety. It's like saying just how dangerous they were but the point is that you will never come face to face with a T Rex… though you might with a great white shark or a tiger. We learn that T Rex was one of the most dangerous animals that ever existed but we also learn that we are actually separated from it by 66 million years of extinction.”
The other lovely thing about dinosaurs, of course, is studying them and reading about them allow children ownership of information: “We've all got to pay bills and grown-up things like that but children don't have to worry about that at all. They can concentrate on learning the weight of a particular dinosaur or how to say its name or what the name actually means and that means that they can really show ownership of quite complex information which is great. I think in that sense dinosaurs are a really good vehicle for growing up. Children become so fascinated by them, just in the way they love space or cars or fashion. These are all things that are quite information heavy but they're also actually the stuff of fairy tales that children can find out about. I grew up on the Norfolk coast and I would go fossil hunting. I found a tiny shell once and I took to school the next day and I found out it was a really ancient squid which was now extinct and for me that was just so exciting. I wanted to know what does it mean that it's turned to stone, what does it mean that it's now extinct, what does it mean that it's more than 100 million years old. And I can still remember vividly being so excited at sharing this rather boring little shell!”
And that excitement is something the great scientists will share, David Attenborough for instance: “David always describes himself as being childlike. Not childish, but childlike and it is that naive questioning of the world that is so important.” Especially with so much left to find out: “People say aren't you confident that you think you've learned everything there is to know now about dinosaurs but the truth is that we've barely scratched the surface. There's just so much still that we don't know.”