Alan J. Charig

Alan Jack Charig (1 July 1927 – 15 July 1997) was an English palaeontologist[1] and writer who popularised his subject on television and in books at the start of the wave of interest in dinosaurs in the 1970s.

Charig was, though, first and foremost a research scientist in the Department of Palaeontology at the Natural History Museum, London. There he worked on dinosaurs and their immediate Triassic ancestors, but also studied creatures as varied as limbless amphisbaenians (worm-lizards) and a Fijian gastropod, Thatcheria.

Alan J. Charig
Born1 July 1927
Died15 July 1997 (aged 70)
Scientific career


Charig was educated at The Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School, an independent school (at that time in Hampstead), and Emmanuel College, Cambridge. His university education was interrupted by National Service in the Royal Armoured Corps, first as a tank driver and, after volunteering for an Inter-Services Russian language course at Cambridge, as a Russian interpreter in Germany, from 1946 to 1948.

On graduating in Zoology in 1951, Charig took a doctorate at Cambridge, supervised by the late Francis Rex Parrington. His subject was Triassic archosaurs of Tanganyika.

After a short spell as lecturer in Zoology in the Gold Coast (now Ghana), in 1957 Charig took up a post in Invertebrate palaeontology at the Natural History Museum. He remained at the museum for the rest of his career, becoming Curator of Fossil Reptiles and Birds in 1961, and Principal Scientific Officer in 1964.

Life at the museum suited Charig well. He enjoyed meeting the public, especially children, and was an entertaining lecturer. He was known to write detailed letters in response to written questions and ideas from member of the public, again particularly children.

He wrote and presented a 10-part series on vertebrate palaeontology, Before the Ark (1973) on BBC television, and wrote the accompanying book. His second semi-popular book, A New Look at the Dinosaurs (1979), had an even greater impact and was translated into several languages.

Charig also planned exhibitions, notably in the museum's Fossil Mammal Gallery between 1970 and 1988. He retained his fluency in Russian from his Army days and gave classes in conversational Russian for his colleagues.

Despite long periods of poor health, Charig made many original scholarly contributions to dinosaur science, including an hypothesis to explain the unusual pelvic structure in plant-eating dinosaurs, which he referred to informally as "the femur-knocking-on-the-pubis problem".

In the mid-1980s, he found himself defending the museum's most famous fossil, the earliest known bird, Archaeopteryx, the authenticity of which was challenged by Sir Fred Hoyle. Charig responded with a characteristically robust refutation.

Charig loved travel; he climbed mountains in Peru and visited Timbuktu in a Morris Minor. He led museum expeditions to Zambia and Tanzania in 1963, to Lesotho in 1966 (discovering the oldest articulated fossil mammal skeleton in Early Jurassic rocks), and in 1978 to the Early Cretaceous of Queensland (turning up one of the earliest herrings).

A British Council scheme afforded a privileged visit to China, in 1979. It proved the forerunner of a joint field expedition to Sichuan in 1982 by the museum and the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology, Beijing.

This trip was the most fascinating of his many foreign experiences. However, the next year, a rather less exotic location – a brick-pit near Ockley, in Surrey, England – provided Charig with the most exciting research project of his career. He excavated Baryonyx walkeri, a remarkable fish-eating dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous Period.

After his retirement in 1987, Charig continued his research work at the Natural History Museum. At this period he also took up a two-month research fellowship awarded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. In 1995, he went on an arduous tour of fossil sites throughout Argentina.

His final scientific publication, a monograph on the Surrey dinosaur Baryonyx, of which he was the senior author, was published at the end of June 1997. At the time of his death, two weeks later, Charig was working on several long-standing projects, notably the description of one of the earliest plant-eating dinosaurs, Scelidosaurus, from Dorset, England.

Alan Charig, whose wife, Marianne Charig, died in 1987, had three children, Nicola Norton, a dentist, Mark Charig, a radiologist and Francis Charig, a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer.


  1. ^ Thomas, Robert, Jr, McG (1997-07-28). "Alan J. Charig, 70, Pursuer of Dinosaurs, Dies". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2009-03-05. Retrieved 2009-03-05.
1986 in paleontology

Paleontology or palaeontology is the study of prehistoric life forms on Earth through the examination of plant and animal fossils. This includes the study of body fossils, tracks (ichnites), burrows, cast-off parts, fossilised feces (coprolites), palynomorphs and chemical residues. Because humans have encountered fossils for millennia, paleontology has a long history both before and after becoming formalized as a science. This article records significant discoveries and events related to paleontology that occurred or were published in the year 1986.

Barbara Pyrah

Barbara Joan Pyrah (1943–2016) was a British geologist, museum curator, and illustrator.


Baryonyx () is a genus of theropod dinosaur which lived in the Barremian stage of the Early Cretaceous Period, about 130–125 million years ago. The first skeleton was discovered in 1983 in the Weald Clay Formation of Surrey, England, and became the holotype specimen of B. walkeri, named by palaeontologists Alan J. Charig and Angela C. Milner in 1986. The generic name, Baryonyx, means "heavy claw" and alludes to the animal's very large claw on the first finger; the specific name, walkeri, refers to its discoverer, amateur fossil collector William J. Walker. The holotype specimen is one of the most complete theropod skeletons from the UK (and remains the most complete spinosaurid), and its discovery attracted media attention. Specimens later discovered in other parts of the United Kingdom and Iberia have also been assigned to the genus.

The holotype specimen, which may not have been fully grown, was estimated to have been between 7.5 and 10 m (25 and 33 ft) long and to have weighed between 1.2 and 1.7 t (1.3 and 1.9 short tons). Baryonyx had a long, low, and narrow snout, which has been compared to that of a gharial. The tip of the snout expanded to the sides in the shape of a rosette. Behind this, the upper jaw had a notch which fitted into the lower jaw (which curved upwards in the same area). It had a triangular crest on the top of its nasal bones. Baryonyx had a large number of finely serrated, conical teeth, with the largest teeth in front. The neck formed an S-shape, and the neural spines of its dorsal vertebrae increased in height from front to back. One elongated neural spine indicates it may have had a hump or ridge along the centre of its back. It had robust forelimbs, with the eponymous first-finger claw measuring about 31 cm (12 in) long.

Now recognised as a member of the family Spinosauridae, Baryonyx's affinities were obscure when it was discovered. Some researchers have suggested that Suchosaurus cultridens is a senior synonym (being an older name), and that Suchomimus tenerensis belongs in the same genus; subsequent authors have kept them separate. Baryonyx was the first theropod dinosaur demonstrated to have been piscivorous (fish-eating), as evidenced by fish scales in the stomach region of the holotype specimen. It may also have been an active predator of larger prey and a scavenger, since it also contained bones of a juvenile Iguanodon. The creature would have caught and processed its prey primarily with its forelimbs and large claws. Baryonyx may have had semiaquatic habits, and coexisted with other theropod, ornithopod, and sauropod dinosaurs, as well as pterosaurs, crocodiles, turtles and fishes, in a fluvial environment.


Charig is a surname. Notable people with the name include:

Alan J. Charig (1927–1997), English palaeontologist and writer

Francis Charig (born 1960), British Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BetWiz Sports

Mark Charig (born 1944), British trumpeter and cornetist

Phil Charig (1902–1960), American musical theatre composers

Francis Charig

Francis Charig (born 23 November 1960 in Hurst Green, Oxted, England) is the British Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BetWiz Sports and is also a board director of Baillie Gifford Shin Nippon plc, a Japan-focussed investment trust. He was educated at Whitgift School in Croydon and subsequently at the University of Exeter where he read Political Science. He was Head of the Trading Systems Business Unit at the London Stock Exchange, co-founder, Chairman & CEO of Tao Group, CEO of Antix Labs, Chairman of the Open Contents Platform Association in Tokyo. In January 2008 he was a passenger on British Airways Flight 38 that crashed at Heathrow but he escaped unharmed. His father was the late palaeontologist Alan J. Charig.

Francis Rex Parrington

Francis Rex Parrington (20 February 1905 – 17 April 1981) was a British vertebrate palaeontologist and comparative anatomist at the University of Cambridge. A Fellow of the Royal Society, he was director of the Cambridge University Museum of Zoology and past president of the zoology section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.


Heterodontosaurus is a genus of heterodontosaurid dinosaur that lived during the Early Jurassic, 200–190 million years ago. Its only known member species, Heterodontosaurus tucki, was named in 1962 based on a skull discovered in South Africa. The genus name means "different toothed lizard", in reference to its unusual, heterodont dentition; the specific name honors G. C. Tuck, who supported the discoverers. Further specimens have since been found, including an almost complete skeleton in 1966.

Though it was a small dinosaur, Heterodontosaurus was one of the largest members of its family, reaching between 1.18 m (3 ft 10 in) and possibly 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in) in length, and weighing between 2 and 10 kg (4.4 and 22.0 lb). The body was short with a long tail. The five-fingered forelimbs were long and relatively robust, whereas the hind-limbs were long, slender, and had four toes. The skull was elongated, narrow, and triangular when viewed from the side. The front of the jaws were covered in a horny beak. It had three types of teeth; in the upper jaw, small, incisor-like teeth were followed by long, canine-like tusks. A gap divided the tusks from the chisel-like cheek-teeth.

Heterodontosaurus is the eponymous and best-known member of the family Heterodontosauridae. This family is considered one of the most primitive or basal groups within the order of ornithischian dinosaurs. In spite of the large tusks, Heterodontosaurus is thought to have been herbivorous, or at least omnivorous. Though it was formerly thought to have been capable of quadrupedal locomotion, it is now thought to have been bipedal. Tooth replacement was sporadic and not continuous, unlike its relatives. At least four other heterodontosaurid genera are known from the same geological formations as Heterodontosaurus.


Hypselorhachis is a genus of extinct reptile, possibly a ctenosauriscid archosaur related to Ctenosauriscus. It lived during the Triassic Period. It is currently known only from a single vertebra found from the Middle Triassic Manda Beds in Tanzania. The vertebra is preserved in reasonably good condition, as although the tall neural spine is chipped in several places it is not broken despite being quite slender, only around 20 mm thick transversely.

The type species is H. mirabilis, mentioned but never fully described by English paleontologist Alan J. Charig. Hypselorhachis was assigned to the Ctenosauriscidae, a group of sail-backed archosaurs, in 1988. It was formally described by Richard J. Butler and co-workers in 2009. The name means 'wonderful high spine', from the Latin 'mirabilis' 'wonderful' and the Greek 'ὑπσελος', 'high' and 'ῥαχις' 'spine' or 'backbone'. Hypselorhachis was probably at least 3 metres long, maybe up to 4 or 5 metres, as the vertebra is certainly from quite a large animal.

Hypselorhachis is known from a single anterior dorsal vertebra found from the Lifua Member of the Manda Beds, which is thought to have been deposited during the Anisian stage. The only characteristic that diagnoses the genus is a feature seen in the prezygapophysis - a small part of the bone projects dorsally. Because of the lack of any other material, comparisons between it and other early archosaurs can only be based on features seen in the vertebra, making any current phylogenetic classification tentative. Because the neural spine of the holotype is elongate, being over five times the height of the centrum, Hypselorhachis may be a ctenosauriscid. The neural spine is around 305 mm high, or possibly greater than this as some of the end may be missing, while the centrum is only around 60 mm high even at its tallest points. As is visible on the picture, the centrum has deeply concave lower, left and right surfaces. Other ctenosauriscids such as Arizonasaurus and Ctenosauriscus possessed characteristically large sails that were formed from elongate neural spines, and the shape of the neural spine is also similar. In Hypselorhachis, as in the ctenosauriscids mentioned, the neural spine is wider at the distal end than at the proximal end, and if, as seems certain, it did have a full sail the sail would have been quite tough due to mostly being transversely compressed bone with little space in between. The neural arch is very solid and quite compact, and the neural canal rather thin, so the spinal cord would have been relatively well protected.Other features of the vertebra include multiple fossae or pits around the neural canal, especially just above it on the posterior side of the vertebra. These were present in many archosaurs and archosauromorphs, such as saurischian dinosaurs, pterosaurs, Erythrosuchus, Postosuchus and Arizonasaurus. The fact that Hypselorhachis shares them with Arizonasaurus may also be further evidence of its being closely related - although on their own they were so common that they would not suggest this, the presence of both the deep fossae and the high neural spine resembling that of Arizonasaurus is strong evidence to suggest that Hypselorhachis was indeed a ctenosauriscid, or at least a relative of the main ctenosauriscid group.

July 1

July 1 is the 182nd day of the year (183rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 183 days remain until the end of the year.

It is the last day of the first half of the year. The end of this day marks the halfway point of a leap year. It also falls on the same day of the week as New Year's Day in a leap year.

The midpoint of the year for southern hemisphere DST countries occurs at 11:00 p.m.

List of Old Haberdashers

The Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School (commonly referred to as HABS) is a British independent school for boys aged 4–18 in Hertfordshire which is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference and the Haileybury Group.

Former students at Haberdashers' are referred to as Old Haberdashers. A number of former Haberdashers' students have entered the acting profession, of whom Sacha Baron Cohen, Matt Lucas and Jason Isaacs are particularly prominent. Haberdashers' has produced a number of statesmen and others in the political sphere, with the recent Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, David Lidington, also being a former pupil of the school. The historian Simon Schama, a frequent contributor to television and radio programmes, and the late Brian Sewell, 'Britain's most famous and controversial art critic', are also Old Boys of the school.

List of alumni of Emmanuel College, Cambridge

This is a list of alumni of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

Manda Formation

The Manda Formation (also known as the Manda Beds) is a Middle Triassic geologic formation in Tanzania. It preserves fossils of many terrestrial vertebrates from the Triassic, including some of the earliest archosaurs.


Mandasuchus is an extinct genus of loricatan pseudosuchian from the Manda Formation of Tanzania, which dates back to the Ladinian or Anisian stage of the Middle Triassic.


Nyasasaurus (meaning "Lake Nyasa lizard") is an extinct genus of dinosauriform reptile from the Middle Triassic Manda Formation of Tanzania that appears to be the earliest known dinosaur. The type species Nyasasaurus parringtoni was first described in 1956 in the doctoral thesis of English paleontologist Alan J. Charig, but it was not formally described until 2013. Previously, the oldest record of dinosaurs was from Argentina and dated back to the late Carnian stage, about 231.4 million years ago. Nyasasaurus comes from a deposit that dates back to the Anisian stage, meaning that it predates other early dinosaurs by about 12 million years.


"Pallisteria" is an extinct genus of "rauisuchian" that is yet to be formally described. Thus, the name is considered a nomen nudum. It is known from NHMUK R36620, a partial skull and some postcranial fragments collected from the Lifua Member of the Manda Formation of Tanzania and date back to the late Anisian stage of the Middle Triassic. The remains were first mentioned without description by English paleontologist Alan J. Charig in 1967 who published the name "Pallisteria angustimentum", along with Nyasasaurus in a review of the Archosauria. Charig referred "Pallisteria" to the Thecodontia.


Paracrocodylomorpha is a clade of pseudosuchian archosaurs. The clade includes the diverse and unusual group Poposauroidea as well as the generally carnivorous and quadrupedal members of Loricata, including modern crocodylians. Paracrocodylomorpha was named by paleontologist J. Michael Parrish in 1993, although the group is now considered to encompass more reptiles than his original definition intended. The most recent definition of Paracrocodylomorpha, as defined by Sterling Nesbitt in 2011, is "the least inclusive clade containing Poposaurus and Crocodylus niloticus (the Nile crocodile). Most groups of paracrocodylomorphs became extinct at the end of the Triassic period, with the exception of the crocodylomorphs, from which crocodylians such as crocodiles and alligators evolved in the latter part of the Mesozoic.


Scleromochlus (Greek for "hard fulcrum") is an extinct genus of small avemetatarsalians from the Late Triassic period.


Teleocrater (meaning "completed basin", in reference to its closed acetabulum) is a genus of avemetatarsalian archosaur from the Middle Triassic Manda Formation of Tanzania. The name was coined by English paleontologist Alan Charig in his 1956 doctoral dissertation, but was only formally published in 2017 by Sterling Nesbitt and colleagues. The genus contains the type and only species T. rhadinus. Uncertainty over the affinities of Teleocrater have persisted since Charig's initial publication; they were not resolved until Nesbitt et al. performed a phylogenetic analysis. They found that Teleocrater is most closely related to the similarly enigmatic Yarasuchus, Dongusuchus, and Spondylosoma in a group that was named the Aphanosauria. Aphanosauria was found to be the sister group of the Ornithodira, the group containing dinosaurs and pterosaurs.

A carnivorous quadruped measuring 7–10 feet (2.1–3.0 m) long, Teleocrater is notable for its unusually long neck vertebrae. The neural canals in its neck vertebrae gradually become taller towards the back of the neck, which may be a distinguishing trait. Unlike the Lagerpetidae or Ornithodira, the hindlimbs of Teleocrater are not adapted for running; the metatarsal bones are not particularly elongated. Also unlike lagerpetids and ornithodirans, Teleocrater inherited the more flexible ankle configuration present ancestrally among archosaurs, suggesting that the same configuration was also ancestral to Avemetatarsalia but was lost independently by several lineages. Histology of the long bones of Teleocrater indicates that it had moderately fast growth rates, closer to ornithodirans than crocodilians and other pseudosuchians.

Usili Formation

The Usili Formation is a Late Permian geologic formation in Tanzania. It preserves fossils of many terrestrial vertebrates from the Permian, including temnospondyls, pareiasaurs, therapsids and the archosauromorph Aenigmastropheus.


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