Dinosaurs and London: a very quick history




Dinosaurs and London go back a long way, even further than the colourful creatures that have stalked Crystal Palace park since 1854, let alone the Natural History Museum's famous diplodocus, first spotted in South Kensington in 1905.

Some 130 million years ago, London was part of a flood plain, its many rivers running into a huge freshwater lake that covered much of modern southern England and northern France. That meant plenty of fish to feast on for a giant crocodile-type monster called the Baryonyx, which was over 10m long, about the same as a London bus, whose pescatary appetites extend only to the Oyster.

Poor old Baryonyx lay undiscovered for aeons, possibly waiting for a bus. Then, in 1983, just outside Dorking, in a scene straight out of Jurassic Park, fossil hunter William Walker "came across an enormous claw sticking out of the side of a clay pit", as the wikipedia entry puts it.

You can only imagine the elemental fear Walker experienced as his mind processed the image of the grabbing hand, ready to pluck him back to the Cretaceous. Probably a bit like how Cheryl Cole feels when she sees Andy's name flashing on her mobile.