May 25th

1848 – Mantell Publishes Description of Iguanodon

On this day in dinosaurs, Gideon Mantell presented a paper to the Royal Society of London entitled “On the Structure of the Jaws and Teeth of the Iguanodon.” Mantell describes the bones in great detail, comparing them to the much more incomplete fragments he’d described in 1841.

Mantell’s Iguanodon teeth illustrations / JSTOR

Without any full fossil skeletons, Mantell was still wrestling with the exact size of Iguanodon, and he often wildly extrapolated, thinking its jaws could be up to four feet long! But Mantell was also aware that the teeth of his dinosaur were not like those of a modern iguana. With each new discovery, dinosaurs gained their own character, even when being compared to today’s reptiles and mammals.

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