Eustreptospondylus oxoniensis from Summertown (Oxfordshire)

After the recent hot weather and to coincide with the gradual opening up of museums as some of the COVID-19 restrictions are eased in England, we wanted to feature the fossilised remains of one of the most complete theropod dinosaurs known from the Middle Jurassic of Europe – Eustreptospondylus oxoniensis.

Eustreptospondylus oxoniensis

Why Eustreptospondylus?  It’s fossils were discovered in a clay pit at Summertown, Oxfordshire.  The marine sediments revealed a single, disarticulated skeleton, probably representing a young animal.  The specimen (OUMNH J. 13558) is on display at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.  As we reach high summer in the Northern Hemisphere, we think it fitting to remember the dinosaur from Summertown.

Eustreptospondylus oxoniensis on Display at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Eustreptospondylus fossil specimen on display.
The mounted skeleton of Eustreptospondylus oxoniensis on display at the museum. Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

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Discovered in 1871?

The fossilised remains of this theropod were discovered in 1871 according to the Oxford University museum, but some sources claim the fossils were found in the previous year.  The dinosaur has not always been displayed like this, for many years the fossils were posed in a “kangaroo-like” posture with the tail bones dragging on the ground.  In addition, a replica of the head of an adult Eustreptospondylus was added to the exhibition case to demonstrate that this dinosaur would have grown up into a formidable predator, had it lived for a few years longer.

The Reconstructed Head of the Fearsome Eustreptospondylus (E. oxoniensis)

A reconstruction of the head of Eustreptospondylus.
A reconstruction of the head of Eustreptospondylus oxoniensis on display at the Oxford University Natural History Museum.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

As we move into high summer, it’s a pleasure to remember one resident of Summertown.

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