Professor Brian J Ford appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning to argue that the tails of the prehistoric creatures were too large and cumbersome for them to hunt effectively on land. This means they would not have been able to consume enough food to sustain them.

The scientist and lecturer said the accepted view of dinosaurs as stalking the land is wrong. Instead, an underwater environment would be necessary to support their large bodies.

“Every time you see these images, they are always the same,” he said. “These huge dinosaurs crunching across arid deserts holding these huge tails erect as they are looking around for prey. It makes no sense.

“Just imagine that the landscape was water – it suddenly makes sense. This huge tail is buoyant, floating in the water. It becomes a swimming aid.

“Suddenly his environment is sympathetic to him.”

The Today programme described his theory as: “so revolutionary it stands the whole world of palaeontology on its head.”

But experts aren’t convinced. Dr Paul Berrett from the Natural History Museum said the theory had been dismissed up to 100 years ago.

“Things have moved on quite a lot. I don’t think we will be re-writing the text books just yet,” he said.