Discovery of Iguanodon fossil teeth, 1825

Discovery of Iguanodon fossil teeth, 1825

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Credit: PAUL D STEWART/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Iguanodon tooth copperplate, original age toning. 1825 Plate 1 from "Notice on the Iguanodon, a newly discovered fossil reptile, from the sandstone of Tilgate Forest, in Sussex, " in: Phil Trans Roy Soc Lond, vol. 115 (1825), pp.179-186. Found Sept 1820. Two contemporary experts dismissed it as a hippo (Cuvier) or giant fish (Buckland). Cuvier later retracted and noted it as from a gigantic herbivorous reptile. Mantell found the tooth resembled that of a modern iguana lizard. In 1825 in this paper he gave it the name Iguanodon (iguana toothed) recognising that likeness. He associated it with other material of a giant reptile from the Tilgate quarries. It was only the second dinosaur to be named (after Buckland's Megalosaurus) 'dinosaur' was only coined in 1841 by Owen. The specimen is now in New Zealand Te Papa museum where his emigre son took it after his father's death.

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