PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Copper engraving from Table 8, facing page 143, of Robert Plot's 1677 'Natural History of Oxfordshire'. Dug out of a quarry in "the Parish of Cornwell" in Oxfordshire on the land of (and donated by) Sir Thomas Pennyston - to whom the plate is dedicated. Lower part of a femur, probably of Megalosaurus, identified by Plot as most likely the thigh bone of a giant man as mentioned in the Bible. Plot spends several pages considering the fossil, which he feels is a natural petrifaction rather than a "formed stone" viz an inorganic production of nature. Though his reasons are not entirely sound, he correctly dismisses the possibility that this is an elephant brought to the UK by the Romans, or that it is a bone of an Ox or horse expanded by petrifaction. The true nature of this bone as the femur of a dinosaur was only realised by William Buckland around 1822. The bone has since been lost.
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