Dinosaurs – Iguanodon

Iguanodon is one of the most common dinosaurs to be found in the UK. It’s footprints adorn many of the beaches around our coastline, and several complete skeletons have been discovered, particularly on the Isle of Wight. In fact, it was (as we mentioned earlier), the first dinosaur to be discovered ever! So quite a special dinosaur! But scientists didn’t get it all right at first….

Gideon Mantell discovered the first fossil Iguanodon tooth, and very soon, an almost full skeleton was found. The name ‘Iguanodon’ comes from the modern-day lizard, Iguana. Sir Richard Owen, who came up with the name ‘dinosaur’ thought that Iguanodon was simply a huge lizard. So when he commissioned Benjamin Waterhouse-Hawkins to build a life-size model, that was what he based it on. The first reconstruction looked like a huge lizard with a big spike on his nose!

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The original reconstruction of Iguanodon. Notice the spike on the nose.

We now know that Iguanodon walked primarily on two legs, although wasn’t the upright creature that it was depicted in later movies and publications. It used it’s hands for occasionally walking on all fours, but also for grabbing food and lifting himself up.

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The current reconstruction of Iguanodon. Notice where the spikes are now – on the thumbs! Better and more complete skeletons have been discovered, giving us a much better picture of what they looked like!

Footprints are the most common Iguanodon fossil, and are common around the Isle of Wight, particularly along Brook Bay. They are even found in-situ, the actual place where the Dinosaur walked! Bones are also common along the beaches, where they have been washed up, after being washed out of the cliff at high tide. Keep a look out if you’re ever down there – you never know what you might find!

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