Marsh Palaeontology Award

The Marsh Award for Palaeontology aims to recognise living individuals (or groups of individuals) - based in the UK - who have made a significant contribution to the field of palaeontology. The purpose of the Marsh Award for Palaeontology is to recognise those who have contributed significant work to the field, yet whose efforts have not necessarily been widely recognised to date. Those nominated for the award can be of either amateur or professional status.

The 2015 winner is Dean Lomax

Dean Lomax has been working in the field of palaeontology for approximately 8 years and in that time has made a significant contribution to the field. The majority of his contribution has been done in a voluntary capacity in museums and in the field, or has been research conducted entirely in his own time and at his own expense.

Dean has already published a number of scientific peer-reviewed papers in well-respected journals, largely as the sole or lead author. The majority of these papers represent studies of remains that are completely new to science and the subjects are quite diverse, from the world’s longest ‘death track’ (a 9.7m long Jurassic-aged trackway created by a horseshoe crab) to the most complete skeleton of a Morrocan plesiosaur species called Zarafasaura – but perhaps his most important discovery so far was the recognition of a new species of ichthyosaur which he first examined in 2008 and which was published in 2015.

In 2008, Dean recognised the importance of the poorly neglected palaeontology collection at Doncaster Museum, while working there as a volunteer. Dean quickly realised the significance of the collection (containing some 12,000 specimens) and was instrumental in raising £80,000 through the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to completely review and revitalise the collection. As a result of this project, the palaeontology collection is now among the best curated and researched collection in the museum with each specimen catalogued, identified, re-stored and interpreted by Dean. His work has led to nine scientific articles being published about the collection so far, with several more to come. In particular, this work led to the discovery of a brand new fossil site of exceptional preservation within Doncaster including the first-ever occurrence of horseshoe crabs and a shark egg case in the area. Such fossils in Doncaster (and South Yorkshire) are generally poorly represented and understood but this material was published by Dean (as lead author) and colleagues in the Geological Journal.

In 2011, Dean’s first book, Fossils of the Whitby Coast, was published. This 132 page book is lavishly illustrated and is a guide for both serious collectors and interested amateurs. He is also the lead author on the newly published, comprehensive (some 416 pages and 800+ images) and well-received book, Dinosaurs of the British Isles, which is the first of its kind. Early reviews of the book have heralded it an ‘instant classic’, ‘useful for the academic and layperson’ and ‘something that has been missing for a long time’.

Dean actively engages with the public and gives lectures and talks at professional conferences, societies, museums and schools regarding his research and fieldwork. He has also appeared on radio and television, being interviewed about his work and about palaeontology in general. Most recently Dean fronted, and was the series advisor for, the television programme Dinosaur Britain bringing palaeontology back to prime time television. In 2015, he represented palaeontology at the House of Commons where he competed against various academics and won a prestigious Gold Medal (G.J. Mendel Award) for excellence in science communication. His down to earth attitude and his simple way of describing scientific concepts, makes the subject accessible and enjoyable for the public.

Dean is now recognised as a leading authority on ichthyosaurs in the UK. It is largely due to this speciality that he was made an Honorary Visiting Scientist at the University of Manchester in January 2013 and he is now a specialist advisor for students. You can read more at Dean’s personal website,

Pictured: Dean with the ichthyosaur (extinct marine reptile) specimen he rediscovered in the collections of Doncaster Museum & Art Gallery (TOP), Dean with his book Dinosaurs of the British Isles, describing every dinosaur ever discovered in the British Isles (MIDDLE), Dean in Crystal Palace Park, London with the original model of Megalosaurus while filing for the TV series Dinosaur Britain (BOTTOM)


The Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road