1763 Dinosaur bone misidentified scrotum

1763 Dinosaur bone misidentified scrotum

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Credit: PAUL D STEWART/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Copperplate print page 318 by Proud in R. Brookes 1763 "The Natural History of Waters, Earths, Stones, Fossils and Minerals etc.". It seems to have been copied directly from Plot's 1677 plate. Brookes confused the naming, by stating in the book that he was applying "the method in which Linnaeus has treated these subjects" and then naming this specimen (the humerus of a dinosaur) 'Scrotum Humanum' on the plate. The text indicates Brookes was confused. He describes a fossil found looking like a scrotum, then goes on to separately describe a giant thighbone from Plot, as if a different entity. Luckily for paleontology it has been decided not to give 'Scrotum' priority in naming over Dinosauria (Owen) or Megalosaurus (Buckland). Janet Browne reports a copy of this book was given to Charles Darwin as a child by his father. Charles was a keen fossil collector and this his first nature book.

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Keywords: brookes, charles darwin, childhood, first dinosaur, fossil, influence, megalosaur, megalosaurus, misidentification, mistake, palaeontology, paleontology, petrifaction, plot, robert darwin, scrotum humanum

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