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Scientific name: Iguanodon, meaning ‘iguana tooth’.

The species that the Iguandon statues were based on has since been renamed Mantellodon (meaning ‘Mantell’s tooth’) after the famous scientist Gideon Mantell who described their fossil remains.

Common name: Iguanodon

Lived: Most Iguanodon fossils have been found in southern England but they are also known from mainland Europe. Related, similar species have been found globally.

Mary Ann Mantell (Gideon Mantell’s wife) is generally credited with discovering the first ever remains of iguanodon (fossil teeth) in Cuckfield, Sussex.

When: 139.8 - 124 million years ago

Size: 2.7 metres high, 10 metres long and weighing around 4,000–5,000 kg

Diet: Plants

Statues: Two models illustrate the conflicting ideas in the 1850s about how this dinosaur might have stood: one on four legs, like an elephant and the other sprawled like an iguana on the trunk of a cycad, a tropical plant whose fossils have been found near iguanodon remains. 

Fun facts: The famous Dinner in the Iguanodon was held in the mould for the standing iguanodon sculpture in 1853.

The famous Maidstone Slab fossil, preserving one of the most complete finds of Iguanodon, is also known as the ‘Mantell-piece’ after Gideon Mantell who described it.

The Crystal Palace statues vs modern scientific reconstructions: Twenty years after the Crystal Palace statues were constructed, new skeleton finds showed that the bones that had been placed as horns on their noses should have been placed on the hand as they are in fact thumb spikes.

Iguanodon is also now depicted as more slender and less heavy-set than the original reconstructions. However, it is still thought that iguanodon could probably walk on two or four legs, as suggested in the image below.

© Copyright Mark Witton 2018

This reconstruction has been reproduced by kind permission of the very talented palaeoartist Mark Witton whose work you can read about, support and buy.

Last edited on 15 May 2019

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