Spinosaurs before Stromer: early finds of spinosaurid dinosaurs and their interpretations
Published:January 01, 2010
Eric Buffetaut, 2010. "Spinosaurs before Stromer: early finds of spinosaurid dinosaurs and their interpretations", Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Saurians: A Historical Perspective, R. T. J. Moody, E. Buffetaut, D. Naish, D. M. Martill
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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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Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Saurians: A Historical Perspective
The discovery of dinosaurs and other large extinct ‘saurians’—a term under which the Victorians commonly lumped ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, pterosaurs and their kin—makes exciting reading and has caught the attention of palaeontologists, historians of science and the general public alike. The papers in this collection go beyond the familiar tales about famous ‘fossil hunters’ and focus on relatively little-known episodes in the discovery and interpretation (from both a scientific and an artistic point of view) of dinosaurs and other inhabitants of the Mesozoic world. They cover a long time span, from the beginnings of ‘modern’ scientific palaeontology in the 1700s to the present, and deal with many parts of the world, from the Yorkshire coast to Central India, from Bavaria to the Sahara. The characters in these stories include professional palaeontologists and geologists (some of them well-known, others quite obscure), explorers, amateur fossil collectors, and artists, linked together by their interest in Mesozoic creatures.