Dougal Dixon was born in Dumfries, Scotland, in 1947, and spent most of his youth in the Scottish borderlands. He graduated Bachelor of Science in geology from The University of St Andrews in 1970 and Master of Science in 1972. He has a special interest in fossils and evolution and his research thesis was on the subject of palaeogeography.
He came to publishing in 1973 when he joined Mitchell/Beazley Ltd., the encyclopaedia publishers in London, as the in-house geological consultant. In 1978 he moved to Poole in Dorset, where he joined the staff of Blandford Press and edited a number of natural science books. In 1980 he left to go freelance.
He is now a full-time writer and book editor specializing in the earth sciences, and has many children's books and encyclopaedias to his name. He has acquired a reputation for putting over the concepts in a totally novel way. Along these lines his most notable books are After Man: a zoology of the future in which he explained the workings of evolution by postulating the types of animals that may evolve in times to come (previously optioned by Spielberg's Dreamworks company); The New Dinosaurs, in which he described the zoogeography of the world by describing what life might be like today had the dinosaurs not become extinct; Man After Man, in which the physical changes to the earth's environment over the next few million years are described through the eyes of people who have been genetically engineered to cope with them, and Time Exposure (aka The Age of Dinosaurs) in collaboration with wildlife photographer Jane Burton, in which extinct animals are dramatically portrayed in lifelike photographs.
He has made several television appearances, and acted as a consultant and animator for a video programme about dinosaurs. He has acted as presenter for a Japanese television programme about evolution, during which he worked in the Serengeti, the rain forest of Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands.
He was a part-time tutor in Earth sciences for the Open University, 1976-8.
From 1993 to 2005, he acted as a visiting lecturer, sponsored by Boyds Mills Press, giving presentations about dinosaurs in elementary schools throughout the USA.
Dougal was presented with the Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in Educational Journalism by The Educational Press Association of America in 1993, the Helen Roney Sattler Award in 1993, The Children's Book Council 1994 Outstanding Trade Science Book Award, and the Times Educational Supplement Primary Schoolbook Award 1996. In 1996 he was appointed as a trustee of the Dinosaur Society, UK. In 2019, his “When the Whales Walked”, illustrated by Hannah Bailey, was awarded the Children’s Choice Award by the School Library Association.
As a practical geologist he took part in the 1995 Open University/Earthwatch expedition to Askja Caldera in central Iceland. In 1987 he was involved in excavating a dinosaur-rich site in Jurassic rocks at Durlston on the Dorset coast. Between 2004 and 2008, he worked on stegosaur excavations in Montana.
He is a great enthusiast of science fiction and has addressed several conventions - usually on the subject of the evolutionary and ecological veracity of science fiction aliens. From 1985 to 1989 he was on the board of governors of the Sandford First School and from 1985 to 1987 he was chairman of the Parent-Teachers Association at Sandford Middle School, both in Wareham, Dorset. From 1981 to 1990 he was a civilian instructor in the Air Training Corps - the Royal Air Force's cadet organization. He is also operations manager and chief projectionist of the local cinema - a job he does for love of the art-form, not for the money! He can often be found in his animation studio creating stop-motion animation advertisements for local businesses and animated shorts which are shown each day at the cinema.
He lives in Wareham, Dorset, with his wife Jean whom he married in 1971. They have two children - Gavin, born in 1975, and Lindsay, born in 1980, and three Grandchildren – Mary and Elsa born in 2010, and Cornelius born in 2012.