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Spinosaurs before Stromer: early finds of spinosaurid dinosaurs and their interpretations

By
Eric Buffetaut
Eric Buffetaut
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
,
UMR 8538, Laboratoire de Géologie de l'Ecole Normale Supérieure
,
24 rue Lhomond, 75231 Paris Cedex 05
,
France
(e-mail: eric.buffetaut@sfr.fr)
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Published:
January 01, 2010

Abstract

When Stromer described Spinosaurus aegyptiacus and erected the family Spinosauridae in 1915 he mentioned that teeth from the Cretaceous of the Djoua region of eastern Sahara, considered by Haug as belonging to a fish, probably belonged to Spinosaurus. The teeth from Djoua had been collected by the French Foureau–Lamy Mission, which had crossed the Sahara from 1898 to 1900. Earlier finds of spinosaurid specimens include the jaw fragments from the Early Cretaceous of Portugal referred by Sauvage to a new species of Suchosaurus, S. girardi. The genus Suchosaurus had been erected by Owen in 1841, with S. cultridens as type species, on the basis of ribbed and compressed teeth from the Wealden of England that he considered as belonging to a crocodilian. The Suchosaurus material from Portugal actually belongs to Baryonyx, as do most of the teeth from the Wealden of England referred to Suchosaurus. The teeth described by Owen had been obtained from a quarry in Tilgate Forest (Sussex) by Mantell, who described and illustrated some of them in several of his publications, notably Illustrations of the Geology of Sussex in 1827. Several of these specimens can be identified in the collections of the Natural History Museum, London. Mantell's earliest published illustrations of these teeth are predated by Cuvier's illustration of a tooth from Tilgate Forest sent to him by Mantell, published in 1824. It thus appears that baryonychine teeth were among the first dinosaur remains to be described and illustrated (as crocodilian teeth) at the time of the discovery of Megalosaurus and Iguanodon, and well before the term ‘dinosaur’ was coined. It was not until the description of Baryonyx walkeri in 1986 that the real affinities of Suchosaurus could be elucidated. Because of their peculiar morphology, spinosaurid teeth from various parts of the world were frequently mistaken for those of other reptiles.

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Contents

Geological Society, London, Special Publications

Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Saurians: A Historical Perspective

R. T. J. Moody
R. T. J. Moody
Kingston University, UK
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;
E. Buffetaut
E. Buffetaut
CNRS, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, France
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;
D. Naish
D. Naish
University of Portsmouth, UK
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;
D. M. Martill
D. M. Martill
University of Portsmouth, UK
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Geological Society of London
Volume
343
ISBN electronic:
9781862395916
Publication date:
January 01, 2010

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