Season 1, Episode 3
In the final show live from Charmouth in Dorset, Dan Snow and the team go deep into the subject that has made this stretch of coastline world famous: its fossils.
There are live rock-smashing missions during the programme to find out how many different ammonites can be found on the beach during the hour, and experts are on hand to translate what they tell us about life on a prehistoric beach. There is also a ‘how to’ fossil guide to help people get motivated and find their own fossil treasure.
Lucy Cooke travels to London to understand how one plucky entrepreneurial woman, Mary Anning, rocked 19th-century Britain with her fossil finds. And the work of Mary continues to inspire scientists today as Lucy finds out when she travels to Oxford to help reconstruct a plesiosaur. Found only in Charmouth, the best-preserved dinosaur in the UK still has many mysteries. What did the scelidosaur look like? How did it live and who would have hunted it? Scientist David Norman explains how crocodiles have helped unlock the mystery of what the scelidosaur looked like.
CT scans are some of the latest technology being used to understand how a dinosaur functioned. Niall Strawson joins Bristol scientists to help piece the jigsaw of an ichthyosaur together.
The rocks and cliffs along the British coastline don’t just hide dinosaur remains. Dan and Lucy Cooke carry out a live demonstration of burning rock and unpack the history of oil production at nearby Kimmeridge.
In this episode, the team are also on the trail of living fossils. Dragonflies are prominent at this time of year on the coast in Dorset, but how have these majestic insects survived two mass extinctions? And why are the flying ‘dinosaurs’ – gulls – evolving to be such a nuisance to people visiting British beaches?
Niall Strawson and his team deal with a paleontologically packed Discovery Centre, show the best finds of the week and demonstrate how a fossil is cleaned up and revealed in its full glory after being extracted.