Tuesday 26 May 2020

WHO REVIEW: Regeneration Impossible

Jacob Dudman has proven himself to be something of a phenomenon. Going from YouTube fan performer to the main reader for Big Finish's new series audiobooks. His impersonations of the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors are spot on, and his Twelfth Doctor is getting better every time I hear it. BF has released four Short Trips featuring Twelve so far (plus a subscriber exclusive) and three of them have been read by Dudman, plus he is the main reader and performs as the Doctor in their Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctor "Chronicles" series. I'm sorely tempted to get The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles and The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles just on the strength of this latest release.

The previous shorts have included "Dead Media" by John Richards and "The Best-Laid Plans" by Ben Tedds, which were both great stories utilising Twelve well. Dudman's version on Twelve was good, but not quite there, but with "Regeneration Impossible," he really nails it. What's even more impressive is that this story isn't an audio reading as such, but an audioplay with three characters all performed by one actor. Dudman switches between the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors plus their enemy, once revealed. It's a fantastic performance.

It's set in Victorian London, almost entirely in a morgue, while the Eleventh Doctor is sulking on his cloud. He's drawn to the morgue by the sudden surges of artron energy there, expecting to find another Time Lord. Instead, he finds his next incarnation, who is burning through regenerations, only to dump the excess energy into a human corpse so as not to actually change.

Of course, Eleven can't believe that this is his future self, since he knows he's on his last regeneration. It's a bit of a retcon, of course, since that was calculated in afterwards, but it makes sense. Twelve doing his utmost to hang onto his current form and not regenerate is, of course, completely in character (don't believe those who say his death wish in "Twice Upon a Time" came from the blue, it was right there in "Deep Breath"). The resolution of the plot is very clever, although exactly how we factor in the Timeless Children revelations is anyone's guess, but let's not get drawn into that whirlpool.

Multiple Doctor stories, though, are all about the clash of personalities. They work best, I feel, when it's just two Doctors face-to-face, or at least focus on two particular incarnations (Day of the Doctor notwithstanding). The constant spat between flappy-arms and attack-eyebrows are fabulous, although by having the Eleventh Doctor in his own grumpy phase and Twelve towards his end makes for less of a clash than we'd have got, say, with a fifth season Eleven and an eighth season Twelve. Nonetheless, this is a great Doctor pairing and one that can only be topped by having the original actors appear together on screen. Until that day, this cannot be beaten.


For the Eleventh Doctor, before "The Snowmen." For the Twelfth, not long before "The Pilot."

Sunday 24 May 2020

LOCKDOWN - Doctors Assemble!

This one is right on the cusp of being a Fans Who review. Naturally, a complete multi-Doctor extravaganza like this is going to need some impersonators, but this is almost all impersonators. Two of them - Jacob Dudman, who does the Eleventh Doctor (perfectly) and Jon Culshaw (who does the Third, Fourth and Fifth Doctors) - have performed as stand-in Doctors for Big Finish. Other than that, the only bona fide Doctor is David Bradley, who's the third First Doctor on the TV series, and since he was cast for his physical resemblance to Hartnell, he actually sounds the least like the original Doctor. Bradley's involved, of course, because this is a semi-anniversary show to tie-in with the watch-along of An Adventure in Space and Time. Did they try to get any more "real" Doctors? We know at least some of them would be up for it.

But still, this is great. The most ambitious of the Lockdown stories so far, organised by Emily Cook, with fourteen Doctors all chatting at each other in the TARDIS. At fifteen minutes, there's barely a plot, but that's not the point. This is tremendous fun. Everything from the recycled classic lines to the brilliant profile pics for each Doctor. The empty shelves of toilet paper behind the War Doctor is just hilarious. "No more," indeed. Some of the impressions are better than others, but they're all good enough to sell it. Other than the semi-official guys, Chris Walker-Thomson's Second Doctor and Jonathon Carley's War Doctor are probably the best, but everyone makes a good Doctor. James Goss knows how to write a funny Who story, and this is right up his street. Just lovely.

Watch it here and enjoy!

A Life in Pubs 4) The Marlborough Head

The problem with these pub experiences is that they all happened so long ago that the pubs are either gone, or they've changed so much there are no pictures of them online as they were. Somewhere I might still have some photos of nights at the Marlborough Head, but if so they're buried away somewhere.

The Marlborough Head is an old pub on the corner of North Row and North Audley Street, just off Oxford Street in central London. It was perfectly placed, almost opposite my halls of residence during my brief time at university. The pub and my home formed a handy triangle with a cashpoint and there was rarely any need to go further on a night out, unless there was an event on or we really fancied a kebab.

Apart from the perfect location, the great thing about the Marlborough was that it was part of the Eerie Pub Co, a ridiculous chain of gothic horror theme pubs. (There was another one in Nottingham called The Pit and the Pendulum, but it wasn't as good.) They might have picked the Marlborough since it was supposedly haunted by the ghosts of executed criminals, but any spirits there doubtless moved on out of embarrassment. It was filled with silly old tat like rows of test tubes filled with food colouring, fake skulls covered in fake cobwebs and that sort of nonsense. The best bit was the toilets, which were hidden behind a false bookcase with only a sign on the floor to give them away. Watching drunk people trying to find them was hilarious.

The chain did a range of cocktails called the Seven Deadly Sins, and if you drank all seven you got to pick either a free pitcher of one of them or a T-shirt. You were supposed to do them all in one night, of course, but the bar staff didn't really care, so what you had was essentially a Nero's stamp card for booze. Given that we went there almost every night, most Saturdays we could pick the last one and then get our favourite as a pitcher. Each. Plus maybe another one to kick off the collection again. If you did go for them all in one night, it was important to take the heavily cream-based Gluttony first, because drinking it on top of the others tended to result in sudden regurgitation.

I spent a lot of time in this pub with my first proper girlfriend, Amy, and often hooligans from back home. Having a pub that close to home was not conducive to studies, though.

According to the interwebs the chain went under some time ago, and the Marlborough was refurbished in 2008, so no more Deadly Sins or trick lavatories. 

Thursday 21 May 2020

Who Novelisation Quest 4: "The Pirate Planet" by James Goss

"The Doctor rarely slept, and when he did, it was purely for the sheer fun of it, and the delight at the breakfast that would follow."

That's just one of the many delightful and captivating lines that makes this book such a joy. The phrase "Bohemian chutney" sticks in the mind as well, but then, chutney's like that.

After the success of Gareth Roberts's novelisation of Shada, the BBC looked at novelising the remaining serials that had not received the Target treatment. While Roberts would not return, James Goss stepped up, proving himself a perfect match for the silly, satirical style of Douglas Adams. It followed City of Death, my all time favourite story, the novelisation of which I approached with trepidation. Surely it couldn't live up to the original? Well, no, since so much of that serial was in the performances, but it was certainly very good.

The Pirate Planet, though, that's something else. The original is good, of course, an entertaining diversion with a clever idea at its centre, but there's the sense that Adams was trying out ideas and hadn't quite got his style down yet. The concept of a literal pirate planet, appearing throughout the galaxy to swallow up unsuspecting worlds and rob them of their resources is an ingenious one, and just one of many in the story. Add to that Adams's humour, and you've a sure fire winner.

Yet, the story's missing something on telly. Goss refines it, working, notably, from Adams's original script rather than the rewritten version that would make it to the screen (doubtless for budgetary reasons as much as anything). As such, how much of the dialogue and description is from Adams and how much from Goss is never entirely clear, and it's testament to just how perfectly the authors fit together that the join is impossible to see.

There are, of course, many deviations from the broadcast story, but this makes it seem all the more in the tradition of the Targets, the best of which shifted greatly from the televised versions. Indeed, this is quite improved over what we saw. The concepts are tightened, the humour given another draft, and everything just gels.

In this version, Romana is a wittier, cheekier version, more on the way to becoming her next incarnation, even though it is explicitly only her second day aboard the TARDIS. The Pirate Captain is a huge and terrifying cyborg, his body reeking of roasting meat, and his face hidden behind a huge, wire beard. The Mentiads, referred to as Mourners, make a great deal more sense with some further exploration. Indeed, everyone's history is explored, although it's the long-suffering Mr Fibuli who benefits the most from a third dimension. His exhausted waiting-for-god existence adds both pathos and hilarity to the scenes aboard the bridge.

Intriguingly, it's hinted that the Black Guardian himself is behind some of the events, tying the story into the Key to Time narrative better than it ever did when it was actually aired as part of it. A significant addition is the Doctor and Romana's time in the Knowhere. A very Adamsian concept, this is a torture device that assails its victims with illusory horrors, allowing the Daleks a cameo in the story. The only difference to the TV version that doesn't really work is the final cliffhanger, which, rather than having the Doctor dupe his enemies with holograms (and thus reveal a major secret of the story) sees him actually walk the plank and be rescued.

The brilliance of The Pirate Planet led the BBC to employ Goss to novelise Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen, and finally, led to the publication of Tom Baker's own lost story Scratchman, which I will finally get round to reviewing very soon. Also, Jon Culshaw's reading of the audiobook is truly exceptional, and steps it up another level again.

First published by BBC Books in 2017
Based on The Pirate Planet, first broadcast in 1978
Audiobook read by Jon Culshaw

Monday 18 May 2020

Ex Astris Scientia - Trek book reviews

In case the Trekkies amongst you don't know, my Star Trek book reviews are also available to read on Bernd Schneider's excellent site Ex Astris Scientia. Previously I've posted my reviews both here and on Ex Astris, but I've started doing retro reviews for Ex Astris only.

My reviews for The Higher Frontier and the Ex Astris exclusive review for TNG: Requiem have been posted here (this should lead straight to Requiem because it's only TNG classic on there, I'll post a link to the reviews index once I figure out how to link directly to a section of the page).

More to come, both new and old books up for review soon.

The Sixth Doctor regenerates

This is absolutely excellent. YouTube user The Confession Dial has incorporated the last moments of the Big Finish audio The Last Adventure (very much worth listening to) to footage from The Trial of a Time Lord, Time and the Rani and more to create a new regeneration scene for Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor. It's almost a shame that the lunacy of Time and the Rani has to follow it.

Spoilers for said audio adventure, of course, but there's far more to it than just the regeneration. I’d recommend listening to The Last Adventure if you haven’t. Although I imagined the Sixth Doctor looking closer to how Colin Baker looks now (after all, we saw in The Time of the Doctor that a Time Lord can revert to a youthful state just before regeneration completes).

Apropos of nothing, I now have a Tumblr. I tumbl.

Sunday 17 May 2020

A Life in Pubs 3) The Scaynes Hill Social Club

My old home town is not a large place. Anyone who's not from round these 'ere parts, Scaynes Hill is a bit of housing, some fields and some woods that exists as a growth on Haywards Heath. Isolated fancy houses with their own grounds that are too posh to exist in an actual town exist all around it and are sort of lumped in there with the village. It's right on the edge of West Sussex, and you're pretty much out of it once you cross the border into East Sussex.

I did a lot of growing up in Scaynes Hill. we moved there when I was twelve, I think, and I was still there well into my twenties. There is not a lot to do in the village and I mostly went out in the nearby towns, but I still spent plenty of time in the village pubs. There are only two pubs in Scaynes Hill, three if you count the Snowdrop which is really beyond the village. Otherwise it's the Farmers (which was pretty nice) and the Sloop (which was very nice but a bit of a walk).

But the main place we'd go for a drink in the village was the Social Club, which was about a hundred yards away from our house across a field, although annoyingly, the farmer who owned it wouldn't lay a nice path down and knock down his fences, so we had to go all the way round, adding a good five minutes onto our walk. Probably ten minutes on the way back.

The Social Club was basically just a big shed, with a bar, a pool room, and a bit of decking. It was, however, cosy, welcoming, and above all, cheap. Every Saturday there was a quiz, which was almost always hosted by my dad, and twice by me. There was some absolutely terrible karaoke, some beery barbecues, and a lot of very nice beer. Every Christmas day there'd be a traditional walk over to the Club for a festive pint. Half the clientele were old-fashioned, country types, with the proper Sussex accent that is now almost extinct; the other half were footballers. Occasionally there'd be a band on, usually Slow Down Mavis (which I was not part of but did name).

The Social Club was quiet, dull and a safe space to learn how to drink more pints of beer than is strictly necessary.

Wednesday 13 May 2020

"Doctor Who - New Beginnings" at Television Heaven

My extensive two-part article on the debut stories of each Doctor, "New Beginnings," is now available to read at Television Heaven. Part One covers the classic series, An Unearthly Child to Time and the Rani, while Part Two covers the TV Movie and the revival series from "Rose" to "The Woman Who Fell to Earth." Some of these I've reviewed before, in a more individually in-depth way, but here I'm not just looking at how each story works on its own. I'm looking at how the process of recasting the Doctor, and often reintroducing the series, has been handled over the years.

There's also a great article on one of my favourite shows, the original run of The Outer Limits, which started only a couple of months before Doctor Who in the States but didn't make it to the UK until much later. It's by Peter Henshuls and it's rather grand. I'm tempted to try some Captain's Blog-style reviews of Limits episodes someday, as I've done with Star Trek and Space Dandy.

Monday 11 May 2020

Spaceships and Aliens

Two amazing visual resources have been made available online for fans of television science fiction.

The BBC Archives site has made high quality photos of empty sets available for download, ostensibly to use as backgrounds for Zoom chats, but really just because they look amazing. As well as multiple versions of the TARDIS console room, there are the bridges of the Liberator and Scorpio from Blake's 7, and laboratory sets from A for Andromeda and Quatermass and the Pit. The whole selection can be downloaded here.

Meanwhile on The Trek Collective, a wealth of artwork and make-up tests from Star Trek Beyond. There are dozens of aliens here, from the familiar Vulcans and Orions through to the new creatures created for the film. A lot of these designs never made it to the screen, or were only visible to the most eagle-eyed viewer. I like that it starts with the Shlerm, which is absolutely canonically the name of the species according to Memory Alpha.

As well as early designs, which I've always loved to see as they go through variations on their way to the screen, there are make-up tests for Idris Elba in his various stages of monstrous make-up as the villainous Krall, and Star Trek Continues' Fiona Vroom, taking up the Orion mantle again for a minor role in the film. Interesting to see that new designs for both Andorians and Ferengi turned up in the early stages, although neither made it to the film. When it comes to the more original creations, I feel like a lot of them have a more Men in Black vibe than what we'd usually expect from Star Trek.

Sunday 10 May 2020


Issue four of Chromakey, the Cult TV magazine, is now available to purchase!

It features pieces by myself on Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death and Farscape, plus articles on Battlestar Galactica, Northern Exposure and From the Earth to the Moon, and of course, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons.

It's available to order from Lulu for £6, or $9.99 CAD/ $7.99 USD/ $11.25 AUD/ €7.99 plus shipping.

Wednesday 6 May 2020

A Life in Pubs 2) Chaplin's

I sadly can't find a decent picture of this place, since even the pub that replaced it closed years ago. Chaplin's was a Hollywood comedy theme pub in Burgess Hill, and that's not something most towns can boast. I do not not how a Hollywood comedy theme pub came to be, I do not know why, I just know that for one reason or another it became our regular haunt back in the early years of the century. Actually, it was probably because they never ID'd us and we started going there when we were seventeen.

When you walked into Chaplin's, you were greeted by a battered mannequin of Charlie Chaplin himself, although more than one person was convinced it was meant to be Hitler. There were pictures of classic Hollywood stars on the walls, including a huge picture of Laurel and Hardy, who looked more and more like my good friends Paul and Andy every time we went there.

The beers weren't great, the wines weren't either, but we were kids and it wasn't expensive, so we didn't care. We continued drinking there for years. There was karaoke on Thursdays, where we originated the classic cockney'd up version of Avril Lavigne's "Complicated," and sang some particularly boisterous renditions of "Build Me Up Buttercup." There was a quiz once a week, which was repeated up the road at the Railway Tavern on the weekends, allowing the attentive quizzer an excellent opportunity for cheating.

Chaplin's was crap, but it was the pleasant sort of crap that leads to fond memories. Above Chaplin's was Checkers, an absolutely terrible nightclub by all accounts that I succesfully managed to avoid visiting until it shut down. The whole lot was bought up and got a makeover. Chaplin's became Pulse, which was equally naff but not in the same way. Checkers was replaced by a strip club, leading to much wailing and gnashing of teeth amongst the sheltered populace of Burgess Hill. Then this mysteriously burnt down, taking Pulse with it. 

Tuesday 5 May 2020

Television Heaven

Don't forget to check out Television Heaven, the Best Online Classic TV Resource! There are articles, reviews and biographies spanning the whole history of television.

The site includes my own articles on such classic programmes as Doctor Who, Out of the Unknown, Quatermass, The Good Life, Porridge, up to modern works of genius such as The Good Place, Good Omens and The Umbrella Academy.

Quantum Shorts

The 2019-20 Quantum Shorts fiction competition has announced its final shortlist of ten stories. This competition, run bu the Centre of Quantum Technologies at the University of Singapore and sponsored by several prestigious institutions, asked for short (1000 words max.) works of fiction exploring the possible consequences of quantum technology. There are some incredible stories included in previous shortlists, and now the 647 entries have been whittled down to just ten finalists. A book will be published featuring the finalists once the final winner has been announced.

Please enjoy my entry, "Pathways to Now," then take the time to read the ten stories on the shortlist and vote for your favourite.

Monday 4 May 2020

A Life in Pubs 1) The Caroline of Brunswick

Part one of "Pubs that have had a measurable impact on my life," with thanks to Nick Kent who started this on the Facebook. Ten pubs that have actually, in some way, changed my life, or at the very least, ones I've spent enough time in or enjoyed enough to be worth mentioning.

The first such pub has to be the Caroline of Brunswick in Brighton, a pub which has genuinely changed my life.

The Caroline, named for the wife of King George IV, who had a rather ostentatious holiday home built just down the road, is pretty bloody unique. It's a rock pub that with some cool/explicit/deeply strange artwork all over the walls, known for its colourful clientele, loud music and a great upstairs venue that always has some excellent comedy performers. The Caroline was the venue for the long-running sci-fi and nerdage quiz The Geekest Link, where I was part of winning teams many times, including the Star Trek special where we achieved the only full marks in the quiz's history.

More importantly, though, the Caroline is where I met my love Suzanne, both times we met for the first time.

The first first time was at the quiz, when we ended up on a team together due to insufficient tables. We kind of forgot about this though until we both twigged some years later.

The second first time we met, and the important one, was upstairs at the Funmy Comedy Shoe. I went along with a friend who was, at the time, seeing Mr Simon Plotkin, the legendary host of the Shoe, and also in an improv troupe with Suz. We shared a table, talked about Red Dwarf, and that was that.

Well, actually, it was ages before we got together, but that was my fault. I'm slow on the uptake. But I am very good at Star Trek trivia, and I did win the shoe-off that night.

Saturday 2 May 2020

TREK REVIEW: "The Higher Frontier" by Christopher L. Bennett

Christopher Bennett continues to plug the gaps in the Original Series timeline, having explored the all the way from Kirk's first command through to the aftermath of The Motion Picture in his previous works. The Higher Frontier takes place in the hinterland between TMP and The Wrath of Khan. Like his previous novel The Face of the Enemy (which returned to the First Federation), this latest work explores previously seen but mysterious alien races.

The novel brings back Miranda Jones and her Medusan symbiote Kollos, who joined together at the close of “Is There in Truth No Beauty?” The story explores the effects of this union on both Jones and Kollos, while taking a welcome look at the Medusans, one of the most fascinating alien species created for the Original Series. At the same time it brings the Aenar into the 23rd century, looking for a reason why they disappear from Federation affairs thereafter, and also taking time to delve into their culture. The two alien races are an obvious pairing, in hindsight: the Aenar are blind and telepathic, while the Medusans communicate entirely through telepathy and can drive anyone who sees them to madness. They compliment each other perfectly

There's a great deal of focus on Dr. Jones, a unique character in the franchise, as she learns about herself and also develops a relationship with Admiral Kirk. It's gratifying to see that Bennett disliked Kirk and the other male officers' treatment of Jones in the original episode, in which they were, by modern standards, appallingly laddish and chauvinistic. He has Kirk apologise to Jones, and the more mature version of the character from the films makes for a good romantic foil, even if we know from our vantage point that it can't last.

There's plenty of exploration of other familiar characters as well. The camaraderie between Sulu, Uhura and Chekov is a highlight, even as the latter begins his posting on the USS Reliant. Seeing him develop under Captain Terrell and the Reliant bridge crew has tragic overtones for the reader, knowing as we all do the fate of the ship in The Wrath of Khan. A very successful character is Thelin, the Andorian officer seen in the alternative timeline of the animated episode “Yesteryear.” Here we get to meet the prime timeline Thelin, who acts as a bridge between the Andorian and Aenar and our window into the difficult relationship between the two cultures. (Thelin's greyish skintone on the cartoon is explained away by his having an Aenar grandparent.)

The Higher Frontier is a sweeping exploration of psychic phenomena during the 23rd century, when human espers were surprisingly well-known in the Federation. This goes right back to the second pilot episode, and the known existence of human beings with psychic abilities is an oddity in the Original Series that doesn't appear in other parts of the franchise. Dr. Jones, who becomes something of a figurehead for telepaths throughout the Federation, is only the most powerful of the human espers. Bennett brings in the New Humans – a movement briefly spoken of in Roddenberry's novelisation of The Motion Picture – and repurposes them as a cultural movement of espers looking to advance their own evolution.

Into this complex universe come the Naazh, a group of brutal, armoured terrorists who lead a campaign of, essentially, ethnic cleansing against “unnatural” psychics, beginning with the Aenar. There's some breathless and surprisingly violent action sequences throughout the book, balancing out the more philosophical side of things. Bennett is a big fan of Kamen Rider, and has peppered the book with references to this series, all of which went over my head, but the idea of the Naazh as tokusatsu-style soldiers is a striking visual. (For most western readers, Power Rangers is probably the most familiar example of this genre.)

Bennett's prose is always a pleasure to read, although on occasions here the exposition does become a little unwieldy, particularly when he's refers back to previous episodes, films and books. I'm not particularly enamoured with his eventual explanation of the espers' abilities. I'm not entirely sure everything in the canon needs to be explained away, and his overarching storyline is a little unwieldy. However, he maintains a thrilling story, bursting with ideas and fascinating visuals, even though the final revelations demand to be taken with a pinch of salt.

2020 Dinosaur News (Jan to April)

Quite a few interesting bits of palaeontological news have crept out during the last couple of months, and since I haven't done a palaeo post for a while, let's have a look.


Spinosaurus aegyptiacus is one of those dinosaurs that has had major revisions in its reconstruction since it was first unearthed in 1912. As with most large dinosaurs, remains of Spinosaurus tend to be very incomplete, so the species has been reconstructed using elements from related genera, gradually being refined as more Spinosaurus remains are discovered. (The type fossil getting destroyed in WWII bombings didn't help much either.) Over the years, the largest theropod has been re-envisaged as a crocodile-like predator that ate mostly fish, comfortably walked on all fours and lived a semiaquatic lifestyle, although this was style pretty hypothetical.

However, recently unearthed fossils show the Spinosaurus tail for the first time, and this shows not the slender, tapering tale known from most theropods but a great big fish-tail. The tail bones show a deep, paddle-like appendage, like that of an eel or newt. As Samir Ziouhri, who heads a team at Casablanca's Hassan II university says, "This tail is unambiguous. This dinosaur was swimming." The full Nature article goes into a little more depth, but this is a major breakthrough in our understanding of dinosaurs, and continues to illustrate just how diverse non-avian theropods were.

S. aegypticiacus econstruction by Mario Lanzas


Something I hadn't realised at all until I saw an Instagram post the other day by palaeontologist Emily Keeble (Deinonychusfloof) is that the huge and rather popular dromaeosaurid Dakotaraptor steini is a chimaera. To explain: in palaeo terms, a chimaera is a fossil that's actually cobbled together from a mix of animals' remains. Sometimes they're deliberate fakes, but usually they're happenstance combinations of remains. It appears that part of the holotype fossil for D. steini is actually from a turtle, which throws the whole analysis of the species into question.

Dakotaraptor has been described as one of the last of the dromaeosaurid dinosaurs, living at the very end of the Cretaceous in the same ecosystem as Triceratops and T. rex. It's also one of the largest, coming close to the biggest of the dromaeosauridae, Utahraptor and Achillobator. It's been tricky to pin down its exact relationship to other dromaeosaurids though, and this could explain why. It's already been suggested it's actually synonymous with Acheroraptor, which was named slightly earlier, so it's possible Dakotaraptor will be scrapped as a valid genus in any case.


This one was a snappy news story: the tiniest ever dinosaur outside of Aves, the true birds. Oculudentavis khaungraae was found as a complete skull, only half an inch in length, preserved in Burmese amber. Initially it was described as a basal avialan, which is to say, a bird in the broadest sense (how exactly to define a bird is a tricky question), only slightly more advanced than Archaeopteryx (which I still consider closer to the dromaeosauridae than avialae in any case). If it was a bird-like dinosaur, it would have been about the size of a bee hummingbird, which is the smallest bird, and therefore smallest dinosaur, known.

However, as soon as the description was published, a number of palaeontologists pointed out that the odd mix of primitive and advanced features didn't so much look like an unusual bird but a lizard-like reptile, throwing the whole thing into question. A lot of living and extinct lizards have evolved bird-like skulls, and Oculudentavis seems to lack some of the features that define theropods. So sadly, as interesting a find as this is, it's almost certainly not a wee little dinosaur.


Everyone loves a baby animal, even a long dead one, so here's a piece on the European Synchroton Radiation Facility and their X-ray of a dinosaur nest. The sauropodomorph Massospondylus carinatus left a nest of eggs 200 million years ago, and now we can see the tiny little baby dinos. The embryos were about 60% through their development, and appear to develop in much the same way as both modern reptiles and birds.