STL Science Center

STL Science Center

14 December 2012

To Hadrosaur or to Hadrosaurus?

From one family to another. For this family we come back to American soil and we venture to a part of the country that is not generally known as having a wealth of dinosaur bones of note in its soil. Typically dinosaur finds in America are detailed in the western half of the continent, but this dinosaur comes to us from the East Coast. In fact, it comes to us from the woods of New Jersey. In 1868 Hadrosaurus foulkii (sturdy lizard of Foulke) became the first ever mounted dinosaur skeleton. Discovered by John Estaugh Hopkins in 1838 and taken home and displayed, they were rediscovered in Hopkins' home in 1858 by William Parker Foulke who, in his interest, had the remainder of the skeleton dug out from the marl (a lime-rich mudstone) where Hopkins found the original bones. Joseph Leidy helped to dig out the find which consisted of a pelvis, 28 vertebrae, parts of the feet, some teeth, parts of the jaw and nearly complete left limbs. Leidy named the skeleton Hadrosaurus with the specific epithet honoring Foulke (leaving Hopkins in obscurity despite his role in the find). The first mounting was designed with the help of Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, the  English sculptor responsible for the Crystal Palace sculptures, and placed within the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences as a bipedal dinosaur; Leidy described Hadrosaurus as bipedal in contrast to the quadrupedal common view of dinosaurs at the time. Hadrosaurus is one of the least adorned of its family (it is competing with Iguanodon for most cow-like of the Cretaceous herbivores) and is the embodiment of the word Hadrosaur in the imaginations of many school aged children. The mount, coincidentally, is still available for school aged children, and adult aged children, to view in Philadelphia, though the mount has changed a little and now shows casts of the bones highlighted in the image below (This image is from Haddonfield, NJ).

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