Consultancy

Dean undertakes a variety of projects as a palaeontological consultant. This includes, but is not restricted to, the assessment of palaeontology collections (e.g. identifications, documentation and research), the development and creation of fossil exhibitions, TV and radio consultancy, and specialist advice/training. In addition, Dean manages fieldwork projects and has led teams in the UK, Europe and the USA.

Fossil Wonders: A Hidden Collection Awakened exhibition at Doncaster Museum (June, 2015).
Fossil Wonders: A Hidden Collection Awakened exhibition at Doncaster Museum (June, 2015).

Dean is passionate about science communication and works as a consultant palaeontologist (and presenter) for various media outlets, see the media page for more details. In addition, he also leads fossil hunting trips and gives talks/lectures at museums, institutions, societies and schools etc., see the events page for details.

A selection of consultancy projects are listed below:

2016 (May–August). Dragonfly Group Ltd: Consultant palaeontologist for a series of children’s dinosaur books (‘What’s so Special about?), authored by Nicky Dee

<i>What’s so Special about? A series of children’s dinosaur books written by Nicky Dee and advised by Dean (March, 2016).
What’s so Special about? A series of children’s dinosaur books written by Nicky Dee and advised by Dean (March, 2016).

The second instalment of the series. This series focused on four dinosaurs, Triceratops, Leaellynasaura, Diplodocus and Megalosaurus. As with the previous consultancy work with Dragonfly Group Ltd (below), Dean’s primary focus was to ensure the scientific accuracy of the text and life reconstructions. For more details about the books please click here.

2015/6 (November–January). Dragonfly Group Ltd: Consultant palaeontologist for a series of children’s dinosaur books (‘What’s so Special about?), authored by Nicky Dee

What’s so Special about? A series of children’s dinosaur books written by Nicky Dee and advised by Dean (March, 2016).

The first part of the series includes four books – see here: special dinosaurs. Each book focuses on one dinosaur, with facts and figures specific to that dinosaur, e.g. when it lived, special features, where the fossils have been found and by whom. As the scientific consultant for the books, this entailed a three-wave review: a). assessment and review of the first draft of each book, including: fact-checking the scientific accuracy, checking that the content involved was dinosaur-appropriate and, where necessary, advising alternative information or offering additional advice/tweaks in order to progress each book; b). collaborating with the consultant artist (Gary Hanna) to create the most scientifically accurate life reconstructions of dinosaurs; from stage 1 to final version. This included providing Gary with references for each dinosaur, with specific comments, e.g. length of the tail, position of the manus (hand), structure of the feathers etc., and the dinosaurs environment; c). review of final books to ensure that scientific content and information had been integrated accordingly.

2015 (March–August). Maverick TV (for ITV): Series advisor and on-screen expert presenter for Dinosaur Britain


Examining a large portion of limb bone, belonging to a very large pliosaur, as part of the Abingdon work (May, 2014).
Exhibition
Examining a large portion of limb bone, belonging to a very large pliosaur, as part of the Abingdon work (May, 2014).

Dean worked alongside the Executive Producer and Head of Factual, Dan Goldsack (at Maverick TV), in the development of the idea prior to commission. Throughout the production phase(s), Dean’s role included, among other things, deciphering the story of Dinosaur Britain and fact-checking its scientific accuracy. He worked closely with the production team and also assisted Jellyfish Pictures with the development of scientifically accurate 3D models for CGI. He was also the on-screen expert presenter, alongside presenter Ellie Harrison.

2015 (March–May). Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery (Education Department): Consultant palaeontologist – Exhibition design, development and creation

Working with the education department, Dean designed and created a palaeontology exhibition (Fossil Wonders: A Hidden Collection Awakened). The exhibition was designed to tell the story of Doncaster's rediscovered palaeontology collection, place the collection within the wider story of British palaeontology, and to emphasise the importance of regional museum collections. It has received excellent feedback.

2015 (Feb–April). Thinktank Museum, Birmingham Museums, Birmingham: Consultant palaeontologist – Specialist research, identification & assessment

An exceptionally well preserved 3D ichthyosaur skull from the Early Jurassic of Warwickshire is stored at the Thinktank Museum. The specimen was discovered during the 1950s and was inaccurately reconstructed. Nigel Larkin was consulted to dismantle, conserve and rebuild the specimen. Dean was consulted to assist Nigel with the identification, description, and the correct anatomical remount of the skull. This project also included CT-scanning the fossil. This individual is a rare example and shall be the subject of future research. For more information please click here.

Excavating fossils in a Palaeocene-aged quarry, Menat, central France (2011).
Excavating fossils in a Palaeocene-aged quarry, Menat, central France (2011).

2014 (March–June). Abingdon County Hall Museum, Oxfordshire: Consultant palaeontologist – Collections review & exhibition design

Nigel Larkin and Dean were consulted for this project. A collections review of Abingdon Museum’s palaeontology collection was undertaken. The collection consists of ~900 fossils that are wide-ranging but comprise largely of Jurassic marine reptiles and Pleistocene mammalian bones. The remains were carefully examined and (where possible) were identified, collections records updated and noted for: conservation, suitability for display/handling, importance/relevance to collection, specific age and scientific significance. The entire collection was repacked into new storage. For more information please click here.

2012–2014 (April–May). Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery – CIRCA Project (funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation): Freelance Curator of Palaeontology

The CIRCA project (Catalogued, Interpreted, Researched, Conserved, Accessible) was created to thoroughly record and curate the entire palaeontology collection (~12,000 specimens). This allowed for the documentation, identification and relevant dispersal of fossil specimens, leading to research and publication of several key fossils. A whole-host of important fossils were rediscovered. The project resulted in a more relevant and usable palaeontology collection, which has been highlighted in the palaeontological community. The collection is now accessible and can be used for display, research and events, as required. This entire project was initially created by Dean and he, in collaboration with a colleague at the museum, secured the funding to undertake this large-scale project.

Dean examining fossils in the collection of Doncaster Museum, as part of the CIRCA project (June, 2014).
Dean examining fossils in the collection of Doncaster Museum, as part of the CIRCA project (June, 2014).

2013 (April–June). Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM), Exeter: Consultant palaeontologist – Collections review

Nigel Larkin and Dean were consulted together for this project. (Project A): Assess a collection of ~260 unprovenanced Jurassic fossils and develop assessment criteria and a retention and disposal strategy for fossils across RAMM’s collection. (Project B): Review ~1000 unprovenanced fossils and refer them to their correct geological period. Where possible, interpret, identify, update, highlight and note any specimens of particular importance/relevance to the collection. For more information please click here.

2011 (March–July). Menat Quarry, central France: Consultant field palaeontologist and quarry manager

Dean was contracted as the manager of a new quarry in central France. This required the creation of a new, scientific reference collection of fossils from a rare Palaeocene-aged Lagerstätte (one of few in the world). This included the excavation of a quarry and the collection and documentation of fossils (fish, insects, plants, birds and more), identification of specimens and management of visiting groups from France, Germany and the UK. A collection of 262 specimens were catalogued.