Some 150 years ago, Victorian England was thrilled by the discovery of large bones emerging from its rocky outcrops. Those bones belong to the world’s largest land animal. The British anatomist Richard Owen named them dinosaurs which means terrible lizards, as he recognized some anatomical similarities to modern reptiles. Most rocks were formed by ancient river deposits and mud in a shallow sea. In most cases, only a single bone survives in the fossilization process.
The first Dinosaur Fossils, Megalosaurus, were described in 1824 from a partially preserved jaw. The first herbivore dinosaur, Iguanodon, was known at the time only from some teeth and bone fragments. In 1850, quarry owner James Harrison of Charmouth sent a large boulder that contained fossil bones, which include bones of legs and skull.
These bones are found in the cliffs of Black Ven between Charmouth and Lyme Regis. It was the first almost complete dinosaur fossils ever recovered. Based on the animal’s well-developed hind legs, in 1859, Owen named the species Scelidosaurus, which means ‘limb lizard.’
In 1861, he also concluded that Scelidosaurus was a fish-eater, but he did not make any attempt to reconstruct its relationship with other dinosaur species. But later unearthed fossils suggested that Scelidosaurus was an armored dinosaur that maybe walks on his hind legs to reach the trees’ foliage. He was living some 194 million years ago in the forests covering the islands in the former British Sea. Their entire body was protected from predators by several bony spikes and plates anchored in the skin.
Their head and neck were also protected by horns on their back edge and horny scutes. Their arms were relatively long, which indicates a mostly quadrupedal posture. For nearly 150 years, Scelidosaurus was regarded as a possible ‘missing link’ between the Stegosaurus dinosaurs, with their huge bony plates and spines along their back, and the Ankylosaurus, which was known as the armor-plated dinosaurs. But it seems that Scleridosaurus is an ancestor of the Ankylosaurus alone.
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