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Re: Dickensian dinosaur




On Tue, 15 Aug 1995, Ellin Beltz wrote:

> In the opening paragraph of "Bleak House,"
> Charles Dickens wrote:
> 
>       "As much mud in the streets, as if the waters had but 
>        newly retired from the face of the earth, and it
>        would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus,
>        forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine
>        lizard up Holborn Hill."
> 
> Is there really a Megalosaurus?  Translated that means
> "really big saurian," but was there some new discovery
> at the time C.D. was writing that he was spoofing?  The
> book appeared in serial form in 1852-53 if that is any
> help.

The megalosaurus he is referring to is the popularized "Megalosaurus 
bucklandii".  Megalosaurus was coined by Buckland in 1924, but the type 
species was assigned by Ritgen, 1926.  Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins was 
commissioned to construct a life-size model of Megalosaurs (which he 
imagined looked like a strange mix of elephant and crocodile... at were 
placed in a park outside of Sydenham, England along with other fanciful 
dinosaur and prehistoric recontructions.  So popular dinosaurs became in 
the 1850's that Victorian writters began to incorporate them into their 
literary works.  Charles Dicken's "Bleak House" and Sir Arthur Conan 
Doyle's "Lost World" are but a few.


---John Schneiderman (dino@revelation.unomaha.edu)