Camptosaurus – Very Successful Late Jurassic Ornithopod
It is always a pleasure to see members of the Ornithopoda on television documentaries about dinosaurs. For example, a Camptosaurus was featured in episode 4 of the BBC television series “Planet Dinosaur”. Often it is the meat-eating monsters such as Allosaurus that hog the limelight but from a vertebrate palaeontology point of view it is the herbivores that are much more interesting – simply because there is very often, much more fossil material to study.
A number of Camptosaurus specimens are known from the Upper Jurassic aged strata of the Morrison Formation, indeed there have been a number of species of Camptosaurus described, including one species from fossils found in England (although this may be a basal iguanodontid).
Many specimens have been discovered ranging from fully grown adults to juveniles and even a twenty-five centimetre fossilised embryo. The hind-limbs were much longer than the fore-limbs enabling this dinosaur to take up a bipedal stance and run if required, although small weight bearing hooves on the middle fingers indicate that this dinosaur also walked on all fours. Camptosaurus was officially named and described by the famous American palaeontologist Othniel Charles Marsh in 1885. So glad it made an appearance in episode 4 of “Planet Dinosaur” alongside its more famous contemporaries such as Stegosaurus and Allosaurus.