STL Science Center

STL Science Center

30 July 2013

When You're This Old...

People have written about Scelidosaurus and they have also studied it a lot. The older the dinosaur the more it has been studied would be a nice rule of thumb, but we know that is not the case. Regardless, this dinosaur does pretty well follow that ideal for a variety of reasons including its position as one of the most basal members of its group. Being the first complete dinosaur discovered had its advantages, such as the wonderfully in depth description provided by Owen in his 1863 publication A Monograph of the Fossil Reptilia of the Liassic Formations, Parts 1-3. He starts the discussion by noting that the skeleton available to him is a young Scelidosaurus and not an adult; this constitutes a very important distinction when considering the life histories of specimens. Owen was also using a lot of jumbled material, however, and a little over 100 years later, in 1968, B.H. Newman wrote a paper describing the lectotype of Scelidosaurus, Lydekker 1888 (a right knee joint/complex), as a megalosaur and calling for a new lectotype to be raised. He proposed that the skull and associated skeleton be placed as the lectotype in the place of Lydekker's lectotype. Newer research and discoveries have been conducted as well. In 2003, for instance, soft tissue was discovered and publicized in a Scelidosaurus find. Not as new, but still of great importance to the study of Scelidosaurus is the discovery of Scelidosaurus remains in Arizona in 1989, making Scelidosaurus not only one of the earliest complete dinosaurs discovered, but also one of the many that have been found in what, even during its lifetime, was a great range of lands and habitats.

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