Dean is a Visiting Scientist in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences (SEES) at The University of Manchester. As part of the affiliation, Dean mentors students as a specialist advisor.
Dean first began scientific research in 2008 with his first peer-reviewed publication in 2010. His research has included visiting many collections across the world, which has resulted with fossils brought to the attention of the scientific community. His research interests are broad, as is evident from his publications to date. However, Dean is an internationally recognised leading expert on Early Jurassic ichthyosaurs (marine reptiles that superficially resemble dolphins), especially the genus Ichthyosaurus. Most of his academic research has been as lead author and has focused on this topic. Such projects have led to research on some fantastic fossils, which has resulted in the description of new species, the first occurrence of specimens in the fossil record, and the rediscovery of material hidden in collections. To help disseminate his research, Dean gives various palaeontology lectures at numerous institutions and at professional conferences. The majority of his research and studies are self-funded.
Highlights (selected examples)
Some highlights regarding Dean’s studies on ichthyosaurs include: a new genus and species from the Early Jurassic of Nottinghamshire, UK, Wahlisaurus massarae which Dean named in honour of two colleagues (Lomax, 2016); description of two new species (Ichthyosaurus larkini, I. somersetensis based on fossils collected almost 200 years ago (Lomax and Massare, 2016); discovery of a new species based on a specimen hidden in a museum collection and misidentified as a plaster cast (Ichthyosaurus anningae, Lomax and Massare, 2015); the largest example of Ichthyosaurus breviceps, a specimen collected by fossil collector Mary Anning (Massare and Lomax, 2014); and the identification and description of the first ichthyosaur embryo belonging to the genus Leptonectes (Lomax and Massare, 2012). Examples of his research on other fossil groups include: the world’s longest death track, a 9.7 m long trackway created by a Jurassic horseshoe crab with the animal preserved at the end, collected from Solnhofen, Germany (Lomax and Racay, 2012); combined examination of six of the original Archaeopteryx specimens, along with the original feather and Compsognathus; uncovering, describing and reporting a new fossil location in Doncaster, which included the discovery of fossils such as horseshoe crabs and a shark egg case never before recorded in the town, or county (Lomax et al., 2014); the most complete specimen of the elasmosaurid plesiosaur Zarafasaura oceanis from Africa (Lomax and Wahl, 2013); and describing several eurypterids (‘sea scorpions’) from the Silurian of Scotland (Lomax et al., 2011). These are just a few select examples of Dean's academic studies, but it provides you with an idea of the variety of research that he is involved in.
Dean undertakes a variety of palaeontological fieldwork projects that last for days, weeks, or even months. Fieldwork has taken him across the world, allowing him to travel to many unusual and often relatively remote locations. However, much of Dean’s time has been spent at various fossil sites in the UK, collecting and recording scientifically important specimens. Work in Europe has primarily been spent in Germany and France. For example, in 2011, Dean was contracted as the manager and palaeontologist of a rare fossil site. This site, called Menat, in Central France, is one of very few exceptionally preserved Palaeocene-aged Lagerstätten (sites of exceptional preservation). This entailed the creation of a scientific reference collection of fossils and management of visiting groups from France, Germany and England. Dean has spent many months in the American West, especially in the state of Wyoming but also in Montana, Colorado, Utah and Florida. Such fieldwork has included the excavation and research of numerous dinosaur (and other fossil) sites. This has also involved the re-excavation of historical locations, including the original site of the large, Late Jurassic pliosaur Megalneusaurus rex. These are just a few examples but it gives you an idea of some of the fieldwork projects that Dean is involved in. To see some photographs of fieldwork click here.
Professional Associations & Affiliations
Honorary Visiting Scientist at The University of Manchester, UK.
Patron for UKAFH (United Kingdom Amateur Fossil Hunters), UK.
Member of the Palaeontographical Society, UK.
Member of the Geological Curators Group, UK.
Member of the Palaeontological Association, UK.
Member of the Western Interior Paleontological Society, USA.
Resident palaeontologist for Yorkshire Wildlife Park, UK.
Research Associate, Big Horn Basin Foundation (Wyoming Dinosaur Center), WY, USA.
Research Associate, Rochester Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology, Rochester, NY. USA.