The “Megalosaurus” Was The First Dinosaur To Receive A Scientific Name After Fossils Of This Reptilian Giant Were Discovered In England In 1824

Keith Barnes Photos - - illustrative purposes only

In 1824, the bones of the reptilian giant found in Stonesfield quarry in England were finally named. It was dubbed the Megalosaurus by William Buckland, a geologist from the University of Oxford.

It became the first dinosaur to receive a scientific name. Two centuries later, scientists are still unlocking the secrets of the Megalosaurus.

At the time, Buckland was unaware that Megalosaurus was a dinosaur because the word did not yet exist. It wouldn’t be coined for another 18 years. Paleontology and geology were still very new fields of science, so the significance of fossils was just beginning to be understood.

However, Buckland was able to determine that the Megalosaurus was a giant reptile unlike any other. He pieced together a crocodile-like image of the creature after examining its leg bones and teeth.

Today’s depiction of the Megalosaurus looks vastly different. Its full name is Megalosaurus bucklandii in honor of the revered geologist. Paleontologists have figured out that the dinosaur was a large carnivore that measured more than 20 feet long as an adult.

It roamed what is now England around 166 million years ago on two legs. It also had short, stout arms with sharp claws and a long skull with curved teeth. Ever since then, the image of the Megalosaurus has undergone many revisions.

In 1842, an English anatomist named Richard Owen coined the word “dinosaur” and had the image of the Megalosaurus redone into something that was a cross between a reptile and a mammal.

His version of the Megalosaurus stood on all fours and had a hump on its back. As new finds were unearthed in the 1850s and ’60s, the portrayal of dinosaurs was tweaked once again.

So far, a complete skeleton of Megalosaurus has never been found or reconstructed. As the years passed and new discoveries were made, the Megalosaurus was slowly forgotten. There is much uncertainty surrounding the dinosaur.

Keith Barnes Photos – – illustrative purposes only

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