The Complete Dinosaur (Life of the Past)

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Since Plot's specimen is lost, we can't say with any certainty what species of dinosaur it belonged to. That means no modern palaeontologist can confidently assign a fossil to Brookes' genus or species. As a result, the predatory Scrotum will never grace the pages of an officially endorsed book of dinosaurs. It would be another 60 years before anyone followed Brookes' lead and assigned an official name to another fossil dinosaur-in-waiting.

David H. Koch Hall of Fossils - Deep Time

Then two came along almost at the same time. In , William Buckland, a professor of geology at the University of Oxford, studied the fossil remains of a gigantic partial skeleton that had been unearthed in Oxfordshire. He named it Megalosaurus. A year later, Gideon Mantell, a doctor based in Sussex, named Iguanodon from bones and teeth. The teeth looked a lot like gigantic versions of modern iguana teeth, hence the name. In the years that followed, Mantell would add to his growing reputation by discovering and describing more Iguanodon bones. He also found a third prehistoric behemoth, the heavily-armoured Hylaeosaurus , which he officially named in There's no doubt that Mantell made a huge contribution to science.

Some historians even suggest he was the man primarily responsible for discovering the dinosaurs , before his nemesis Owen deviously leapt in at the eleventh hour and claimed the credit for himself, simply by coming up with the name "dinosaur". But Torrens, and some other modern writers , beg to differ. Owen's key contribution was not dreaming up a charismatic name. It was realising something that Mantell and other geologists and anatomists had not: that Megalosaurus , Iguanodon and Hylaeosaurus shared never-before-seen anatomical features in common. They weren't simply unusually large land-living reptiles.

The three ancient beasts belonged to a brand new group of animals. Perhaps the flash of inspiration came as soon as Owen saw the Iguanodon specimen in William Devonshire Saull's London collection. Perhaps it came a few days or weeks later. But at some point, Owen noticed a clear similarity between the specimen and one of the Megalosaurus bones that Buckland had described in In both specimens, five vertebrae at the base of the spine had been fused, during life, into one solid lump.

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This had never been seen in another reptile. What's more, from fossil fragments Owen was reasonably sure that these five vertebrae were also fused in Hylaeosaurus. At the bottom of page of his Report on British Fossil Reptiles , he stated with confidence that all three animals were similar to one another and different from every other animal. The dinosaurs had arrived. The year was probably something of a high-water mark for Owen's encounters with the dinosaurs. Owen's most public legacy is the Crystal Palace dinosaurs: a set of life-size models of dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasts that can still be seen in London's Crystal Palace Park.

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The models, installed in the s, show that Owen saw dinosaurs as stocky four-legged animals — a far cry from the swift and dynamic dinosaurs we know of today. Even during Owen's lifetime, better and more complete fossil skeletons showed that some dinosaurs walked on two legs. This called Owen's conclusions into question, and threatened his reputation. Not long before work began on the Crystal Palace dinosaurs, Mantell began to suspect that Iguanodon 's forelimbs were "less bulky, and adapted for seizing and pulling down foliage and branches of trees".

Mantell was actually the first choice to advise on the construction of the Crystal Palace dinosaurs. Had he accepted, their appearance "might have been much more 'modern'," says Torrens. Just as this argument was playing out, the British fossil record revealed a real treasure: the first essentially complete and fully articulated dinosaur skeleton. Owen described the beast in and named it Scelidosaurus.

But he made surprisingly little mention of the fact that it had clearly been a heavily-armoured, four-legged animal that justified some of his earlier interpretations. Arguably, Scelidosaurus should occupy an important position in dinosaur science , says David Norman of the University of Cambridge in the UK. But it has been largely forgotten.

How Dinosaurs Went Extinct!

Worse was to come for Owen. As ever more dinosaur fossils came to light, palaeontologists began the job of working out the family relations within the dinosaur clan. In , a few years before Owen's death, the very idea of dinosaurs was called into question. The British palaeontologist Harry Seeley argued that dinosaurs fell into two great groups, largely defined by differences in the pelvis.

The Complete Dinosaur

The "bird-hipped" Ornithischians had pelvises like those of modern birds, and included Iguanodon and Stegosaurus. The "lizard-hipped" Saurischians, which included giant sauropods such as Diplodocus , had pelvises like modern lizards. Anthony J. Life: an Unauthorized Biography.

Richard A. Abominable Science! Daniel Loxton. Jurassic Coast Fossils. Robert Westwood. Life on a Young Planet. Andrew H. Introducing Palaeontology. Patrick Wyse Jackson. Your review has been submitted successfully.

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    This course examines the anatomy, diversity, and Profiles all known dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures, from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous eras and beyond. Each main entry has a highly detailed and technically accurate illustration, and Dino Dinosaur Paleobiology from University of Alberta. Dino Dinosaur Paleobiology is a lesson course teaching a comprehensive overview of non-avian dinosaurs. Topics covered: anatomy,


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