Dinosaur footprint expert to feature in Channel 5 series fronted by Stephen Fry
Dinosaurs with Stephen Fry, airing from Sunday 12 February on Channel 5, will feature expert analysis from LJMU’s Dr Peter Falkingham. He will explain how birds are modern descendants of dinosaurs by looking at the motion of ostriches compared to the T. rex.
Dr Falkingham, a reader in vertebrate biology in the School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, will feature in episode three of the series to be broadcast on Sunday 26 February at 7pm.
The series uses CGI to transport the viewer back in time to experience the pre-historic world. Bringing the audience back to the present day, scientists like Dr Falkingham then offer their expert insight into the life of dinosaurs.
Explaining how he hopes that the programme will excite and inspire children and adults alike, Dr Falkingham said: “When you work on dinosaurs, there’s not a huge amount of scope for ‘impact’ – ecologists, engineers or astrophysicists might get the chance to work with industry, but there aren’t a whole lot of industries related to dinosaurs!
“As such, our big societal contributions often come from outreach – getting the public (from kids to adults) interested in science and science methods through dinosaurs and other cool extinct animals. Things like this can be a great opportunity to educate the public and get them on board with science.”
Episode three is expected to feature Dr Falkingham explaining both the similarities and differences of the closest living things we have on Earth to dinosaurs – birds. He’ll capture footage of ostriches as they run, before returning to the laboratories at LJMU to make comparisons using models of a T. rex foot, looking at things such as leg motions and limb angles.
Dr Falkingham was recently announced as the lead of a £2.2 million research project looking at the evolution of dinosaurs though fossil tracks.
Other research by Dr Falkingham was published at the end of 2022 in the Royal Society Interface in a first-of-its-kind study that used artificial intelligence to identify fossil tracks, and earlier in 2022 research that found dinosaurs walk more like hippos than they do elephants.