Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Identify the Dinosaur

Yesterday, we wrote about the exciting developments at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (California), with the countdown to the grand opening of their new dinosaur galleries well underway.  The two new halls will be opened on Saturday 16th July, we at Everything Dinosaur have been keen to hear how the work has progressed.  The dinosaur projects are just part of a huge multi-million dollar investment in the museum and once completed this institution will be one of the best appointed natural history museums in the world.

We have been grateful to the very efficient press team at the museum, who have kept us posted on the work and we included some pictures from a press release that we had been sent showing some of the new exhibits.  One of the pictures was labelled as showing a Corythosaurus.  However, our experienced dinosaur experts saw immediately that this was not the case.


The picture shows the skull and cervical vertebrae (neck bones) of a dinosaur, an ornithischian and a herbivore but not a Corythosaurus.  For a start, if this was “helmet lizard” we could not see the distinctive head crest.  These fossilised bones were not lambeosaurine – but what could they be?

We had a brief discussion and the conclusion was that this was an ornithopod, most probably a Camptosaurus (Camptosaurus dispar) and we asked the press room at the museum if they could send us confirmation.   Sure enough, we received confirmation a few hours later that the specimen in the picture, was indeed a Camptosaurus.

A pat on the back all round, as identifying Camptosaurus from the view afforded us in the picture is quite a feat.  Until recently, many mounted exhibits of Camptosaurus fossils were depicted with a deep, rectangular snout.  Unfortunately, in the original research carried out by Marsh, the American scientist responsible for naming and describing this plant-eating dinosaur from the holotype material, a fossilised skull now known to belong to an entirely different dinosaur was used as the basis for describing the head of Camptosaurus.  Scientists now know that the skull of Camptosaurus was broader towards the back of the head and it had a much larger eye socket (orbit).

An Illustration of Camptosaurus (CollectA Dinosaurs)

“Bent Lizard” to scale.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Largely overshadowed by other more famous dinosaurs known from the Morrison Formation, we have a bit of a soft spot for this ornithopod, after all, fossil material from southern England has been ascribed to this genera but the fossils, very much incomplete skeletons by any stretch of the imagination may actually represent iguanodontids.  Some Camptosaurus material may be “nomen dubium” but we still like Camptosaurus.

CollectA introduced a Camptosaurus model into their CollectA range in 2010, the first Camptosaurus model from a mainstream manufacturer.

To view the CollectA range and other dinosaur toys: Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal Figures (CollectA Prehistoric Life).

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