Video: Iguanodon, History of a Dinosaur!
Iguanodon was discovered before the word “dinosaur” was invented and the story of Iguanodon research is the story of dinosaur research as paleontologists use new fossils to test old ideas about what the animal looked like and how it moved. Was it a lumbering quadruped? A springy kangaroo reptile? A little of both? Join us as we dive into the history of paleontology and the history of Iguanodon, the enthusiastic animal who is always ready to give you two thumbs up!
When it was first described in 1822 by Dr. Gideon Mantell, there were only a few teeth to go on. But Mantell knew they belonged to a reptile, and he thought they looked a lot like herbivorous iguana teeth, so he named is gargantuan ancient beast Iguanodon meaning “Iguana tooth”. A block containing more bones and teeth arrived, and Mantell was able to reconstruct the animal.
His hypothesis was cast in concrete for the The Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in London in 1851. For the first time, people got to see life-sized dinosaur models!
The rhino-like animal was given another up update in the 1880s when Louis Dollo and his team discovered several complete Iguanodon skeletons in a Belgian coal mine. He saw the spike Mantell had put on Iguanodon‘s nose went on the thumb, and this creature had long hind legs, so he posed it like a kangaroo.
In the mid-20th century paleontologists took a closer look at the vertebrae of Iguanodon and other dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus and observed they would have broken their backs with their tails on the ground. The tail-up hypothesis was supported by dinosaur footprints that lacked tail-drag marks.
Research on Iguanodon continues as paleontologists try to figure out its closest relatives and how it could have moved on four legs or up on two. As always, science builds on old ideas and presents new questions, a process we give two Iguanodon thumbs up!
Filed under: Cretaceous, Crystal Palace, Dinosaurs, Dollo, Europe, Feathered, Feathers, Fossils, Functional Morphology, Gideon Mantell, Herbivore, History of Science, Iguanodon, Locomotion, Maiasaura, Mantellisaurus, North America, Ornithiscian, Paleontology, Tyrannosaurus, Velociraptor, Victorian, dinosaur