Happy Birthday Dr Gideon Mantell
Today, marks the birthday of Gideon Algernon Mantell, a English doctor, avid fossil collector and amateur geologist who made a considerable contribution to the early science of palaeontology. Gideon Mantell was born on the 3rd of February in 1790, he was responsible for naming and describing two of the three dinosaurs that made up the Order Dinosauria as proposed by Sir Richard Owen. These dinosaurs were Iguanodon and Hylaeosaurus.
The naming of Iguanodon (Iguana Tooth) has a stroke of luck about it. Having studied the very worn, teeth, of a large, herbivorous reptile, as described by the French scientist Cuvier, Mantell was fortunate to see a freshly prepared skeleton of an Iguana from the Caribbean. He visited the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons and was shown the newly prepared Iguana skeleton. Noticing that the teeth of this lizard resembled the fossilised teeth of his as yet unnamed prehistoric reptile, he began to speculate on a formal scientific name for his extinct reptile. The actual name of Iguanodon was suggested to Mantell by the Reverend William Conybeare.
Hence the genus Iguanodon came about, the second dinosaur to be formerly named and described.
Iguanodon Figures at Crystal Palace Park
Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur
To view models of iguanodontids and other ornithischian dinosaurs: Dinosaur Models and Figures.