Dinosaurs were a group of reptiles which lived on Earth millions of years ago. As they were the dominant order of animal life in the lengthy era where they existed, it was known as the "Age of the Dinosaurs".
The term "Dinosaur" was created by human scientists early after they discovered the creatures' existence. According to the Fourth Doctor, it meant terrible lizards and was something of a misnomer; while they were reptiles, the Dinosaurs were not exactly lizards. (PROSE: The Doctor Who Dinosaur Book)
They lived on Earth for around 165 million years before, according to a Coal Hill School textbook, they became extinct. The word dinosaur comes from the term Dinosauria - meaning "terrible lizard" - which was coined by Sir Richard Owen, at the suggestion of the Doctor, in 1842. Dinosaur bones and fossils had been found as early as 1818. (PROSE: A History of Humankind)
- Main article: Age of the Dinosaurs
Many species of dinosaurs evolved and went extinct over millions of years. Just before they went extinct, the last one of each species was captured and brought to the Museum of the Last Ones. (PROSE: The Last Dodo)
The Tenth Doctor's TARDIS accidentally crashed into another ship, causing both of them to crash on Earth during the Cretaceous period. The Doctor had to deal with dinosaurs while trying to get off the planet. (COMIC: Health & Safety)
Also during the Cretaceous, a group of aliens tried to build a colony on Earth using slave labour. Ace led the dinosaurs in destroying the colony's construction site, witnessed by the Seventh Doctor. (PROSE: Living in the Past)
The First Rani did several studies on dinosaurs. She obtained a tyrannosaurus rex embryo for study, which was accidentally aged to adulthood by time spillage in her TARDIS. (TV: The Mark of the Rani) She also planned to use her time brain to stop the extinction of the dinosaurs and study what they would evolve into. (TV: Time and the Rani)
The Silurians used dinosaurs in a variety of ways. (TV: Doctor Who and the Silurians, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, PROSE: Blood Heat) When their civilisation was threatened, they preserved dinosaurs along with themselves, both in stasis under the Earth (TV: Doctor Who and the Silurians) and in the Silurian Ark. (TV: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship) The Sea Devils used dinosaurs as beasts of burden but also claimed to hunt them for sport, holding a very low opinion of the creatures. (COMIC: Clara Oswald and the School of Death)
A female tyrannosaur was accidentally transported to the Victorian London when the TARDIS of the Twelfth Doctor got stuck in her throat. Her presence alerted the local authorities and led to the involvement of the Paternoster Gang to solve the situation. Eventually, the T-rex was killed and burnt by the Half-Face Man in order to steal her optic nerve. (TV: Deep Breath)
In the 1960s, a mad scientist in New York City used a chemical to bring life-sized dinosaur statues to life as part of his plan to liberate zoo animals. The Second Doctor created an antidote which reversed the process. (COMIC: The Monsters from the Past)
In the 1970s, as a part of Operation Golden Age, Whitaker used time eddys to transport various dinosaurs from their home time to central London in his present day. These included tyrannosaurus, apatosaurus, triceratops and pterodactyl. The appearances prompted the evacuation of eight million people and the instigation of martial law.
The Third Doctor captured one dinosaur, a tyrannosaurus, but it was freed by General Finch, who was participating in the operation. After Whitaker and his co-conspirator, Sir Charles Grover, were sent back in time, the dinosaurs ceased appearing. (TV: Invasion of the Dinosaurs)
The Sanctified farmed dinosaurs as livestock. Numerous dinosaur livestock of the Sanctified (including Brachiosaurids, ankylosaurus and a baryonyx) came through the Cardiff Space-Time Rift to Cardiff in 2008. The Torchwood Three team were ultimately able to capture the dinosaurs and send them back through a rift storm to where they came from.
When Vox absorbed the power of the Cardiff Rift, the Sanctified sent several dinosaurs to Barry to try and stop him. However, Vox easily obliterated the dinosaurs with the power of the Rift. (COMIC: Rift War!)
In 2010, dinosaurs were among the prehistoric creatures brought through time into Sydney by chronal waves released by the SKARDIS. They later froze to death when another chronal wave brought ice from the Ice Age into Sydney. (COMIC: The Age of Ice)
In the 21st century, Professor Saurian used a "roll-back machine" to bring dinosaurs from the Jurassic to New York City. The Eleventh Doctor was able to send him and the dinosaurs back in time. (COMIC: Dinosaurs in New York!)
The Silurian Ark was found by the Pirate Solomon, who woke up the dinosaurs to sell them and ejected the Silurians from the ship. He was unable to pilot the ship and accidentally caused it to return to Earth in 2367, causing missiles to be fired at it. The Eleventh Doctor diverted its course and sent the dinosaurs aboard to the planet Siluria, while Solomon was killed when his ship was hit by the missiles. (TV: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship)
When trapped in the Jurassic period, Professor Saurian set up a shield to protect Earth from impacts. Instead of humans evolving, intelligent dinosaurs did. However, the Doctor used his watch to hypnotise Saurian into releasing his telepathic hold on the dinosaurs, who promptly rampaged, destroying the machine. (COMIC: Dino World)
At some point in the 21st century, Amy Pond was transformed into a dinosaur as a result of the Eleventh Doctor causing a galactic space-war at the dawn of human civilisation, which changed the course of human history every time something exploded. (COMIC: Short-Change)
Types of Dinosaurs
On many other planets, creatures similar to the dinosaurs of Earth evolved.
The First Doctor, John and Gillian visited an unnamed asteroid which was home to a large, four-legged dinosaur-like creature. Upon encountering it, they took refuge in a nearby spacecraft, where they met Grig. (COMIC: The Therovian Quest)
The planet Mondas, Earth's twin planet, also had dinosaur species at one stage of its development. Early in their history, the Cybermen partially cyber-converted dinosaurs and on some occasions, used them as mounts. (COMIC: The Cybermen)
On one planet, "cavemen" co-existed with dinosaurs, and the men hunted them. Far later on in this planet's history, evolution brought back dinosaur-like creatures, which became the dominant, though River Song noted these were more accurately large lizards. (AUDIO: Slight Glimpses of Tomorrow)
The planet Quorus was home to tyrannosaur-like creatures. The Master took some eggs from Quorus and brought them to Earth, where he hatched a creature and used it in his plan to take over Earth. The Third Doctor disrupted the Master's control over the creature, which died when it touched a live electrode. (PROSE: Doctor Who Fights Masterplan "Q")
The Dalek home planet Skaro was also home to creatures that resembled dinosaurs, specifically the Triceratops but with only one horn. They were normally peaceful herbivores but would attack Daleks on sight. The Third Doctor and Finney used a herd of these to destroy a group of Daleks that had taken them to Skaro. (COMIC: Planet of the Daleks)
The planet Spekra was home to friendly, dinosaur-like creatures, similar in appearance to the Apatosaurus. Having very keen hearing, two of the creatures were summoned by the First Doctor's ultrasonic device to break down the prison walls and take the prisoners back to their spacecraft. Although Gritog's men shot at the creatures, their thick skins protected them from harm. (COMIC: Prisoners of Gritog)
The homeworld of the Spidrons was another planet inhabited by dinosaur-like creatures. One of these which resembled a pterodactyl, attacked the Third Doctor shortly after he arrived. Another, a tyrannosaur-like creature, stepped on some Spidrons that were pursuing the Doctor and Arnold. (COMIC: Nova)
The Doctor later referenced Operation Golden Age on a number of occasions. He did so in his newly regenerated fourth incarnation, (TV: Robot) and later in his seventh incarnation, to Ace, to the latter's awe. (TV: The Happiness Patrol) Sarah Jane Smith also boasted of this incident to Rose Tyler. (TV: School Reunion) The Doctor later in his eleventh incarnation mentioned dinosaurs to Amy Pond as an example of what you could find on the London Underground. (GAME: City of the Daleks)
Donna Noble believed that Torchwood's laser drilling to the centre of the Earth might have had something to do with dinosaurs, mentioning "[t]hat film under the Earth with dinosaurs." (TV: The Runaway Bride)
When Jorjie Turner suggested using the Space-Time Manipulator to travel through time, Darius Pike argued that it was dangerous and a dinosaur could come out and tear them apart before they could get to the front door. (TV: Liberation)
Behind the scenes
- Radio Times photographed Carole Ann Ford in front of the dinosaur statues in the Crystal Palace for the 10th Anniversary special. The cover of Doctor Who Magazine Issue 162 was Sophie Aldred with the Iguanodons. Issue 221's cover image came from the Radio Times photo shoot.
- Dinosaurs of Pete's World were planned to appear in the scrapped Rose Tyler: Earth Defence spin-off.
- Several types of dinosaur as seen in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship appear as enemies in the video game Doctor Who: Legacy, including pterodactyls, velociraptor, triceratops, ankylosaurus and a "Giant Ankylosaurus".