With his magnificent beard, stature and wise manner, Robert McNeill Alexander, known to his friends and family as Neill, who has died aged 81, was precisely the sort of person the Victorians would have expected to find as a professor of zoology: impressive, charismatic and admired for his work on dinosaurs. An enthusiastic science communicator and adviser to numerous television programmes, including the BBC’s Walking with Beasts (2001), he was also a prolific author, writing close to 30 books and more than 250 scientific papers. His early work played a crucial role in establishing the field of biomechanics, introducing concepts and methods of analysis that became widely used.
His early work in the 1960s and 70s was unlike anything that had gone before. His books Functional Design in Fishes (1967), Bones: The Unity of Form and Function (1994) and