STL Science Center

STL Science Center

15 July 2011

That's quite Campy indeed!

Camptosaurus loves postage stamps.
Ceratosaurus, not so much.
Camptosaurus (Flexible Lizard), lover of the postal service. Hugger of trees. Genus of dinosaur! As a genus, Camptosaurus is comprised of one unique species, Camptosaurus dispar, named by Marsh which was previously a species name occupied by a synonym of the animal, Camptonotus. This was declared a synonym to Camptosaurus and made defunct based mainly on the fact that calling this dinosaur Camptonotus would lead to a world of confusion. Camptonotus, you see, is a genus of cricket comprised of six or seven different species. Imagine a high school student's surprise when looking up the genus for a biology project and finding a dinosaur mixed in with the crickets!

Apparently Camptosaurus really loves trees.
 Camptosaurus, not a cricket of course, is an ornithischian dinosaur of the Late Jurassic common in North America. The animal possessed a strong beak, like Iguanodon, stood about 6.5 to 7 feet at the hips and has been placed between 16 and 26 feet long, which is certainly quite a discrepancy. The length numbers are based on Gregory S. Paul's 2010 estimates and original studies of the many partial skeletons found over time respectively. It is believed that many growth stages of Camptosaurus have been found as well including the now defunct C. nanus, which is believed to have simply been a juvenile C. dispar.

Many European fossils have also, in the past, been assigned to the Camptosaurus genus as C. prestwichii.  Paul (2010) questions the genus of Camptosaurus for these European animals but also recognizes C. aphanoecetes, which is not as popularly known as C. dispar. This is strange because it is believable and logical that C. dispar is the direct ancestor to the younger C. aphanoecetes. Of course, this is also because, while the majority of the skeleton has been found at this time, not as much of the skelton and skull have been recovered as have been found for its ancestor. It's not much of a surprise, regardless of which species you knew before, to find that Camptosaurus is considered a basal Ankylopollexia (an early branch of Iguanodontids) based on its body shape and carriage.

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