Ben's Dinosaur Story

28th January 2017

An exciting story about one of our Year 5 pupils, published by the York Press on Saturday 28th January 2017:


TEACHERS at a York school were stunned to learn of one pupil's historic family legacy.

Ben Owen-Lawns, nine, was learning about dinosaurs and evolution in Kate Frankish's Year Five class at Skelton Primary School, when he said he thought a distant relatives had something to do with the discovery of dinosaurs.

Ms Frankish said: “He told me he thought someone in his family had a connection to the study of dinosaurs but he was quite vague about it. I asked him to go home and try to find out some more information. In all honesty, I didn’t think any more about it.

“The following week, Ben brought in a handwritten note with a bit of research he’d done about this mystery relative. He gave me the piece of paper but I didn’t have chance to look at it until lunchtime. I Googled the name Ben gave me – Sir Richard Owen – and nearly fell off my chair.

During the afternoon’s lesson I asked Ben to share his research with the class which he very calmly did. I however was leaping about with excitement as this is the sort of twist of fate teachers long for to really get the children engaged in a topic, particularly one like evolution and inheritance which is generally quite hard to teach.”

Sir Richard was the brother of one of Ben's direct ancestors on his mother's side.

Ms Frankish said she and the class were “needless to say, a little excited”, and read about Sir Richard on the BBC website, as “the class ‘ooohed’ and ‘ahhhed’.

She said: “We discovered that not only did Sir Richard give the name ‘dinosaur’ to the enormous reptiles but he was also instrumental in establishing the Natural History Museum and was a contemporary of Charles Darwin with whom he often had very heated discussions.”

She said Ben had “remained cool about his claim to fame”, and she believed she could see a resemblance to the historic academic.

She said: “I think Ben has gradually understood that this link is rather special – although he is reluctant to demonstrate any obvious excitement.

"His middle name is Owen, after his famous relative and looking at pictures of Sir Richard Owen we can see the facial similarities. Ben is a very quiet and reserved class member but he’s taking his new found celebrity connection with a sense of pride and slight surprise.

"It’s wonderful to think that in little old Skelton we have a direct connection to the nation’s and indeed the world’s understanding of dinosaurs and evolution.”

Ben Owen-Lawns who is a distant relative of the renowned scientist Sir Richard Owen. Picture: Nigel Holland