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Naming Thecodontosaurus, the Bristol dinosaur



From: Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com

A new online paper:

Michael J. Benton (2012)
Naming the Bristol dinosaur, Thecodontosaurus: politics and science in
the 1830s.
Proceedings of the Geologists' Association (advance online publication)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pgeola.2012.07.012
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016787812000910


Several dinosaurs were reported from 1824 to 1842, the latter being
the year in which Richard Owen named the ‘Dinosauria’. The fourth
dinosaur ever named was Thecodontosaurus, based on numerous isolated
bones from Late Triassic cave deposits, excavated in 1834 from a
working limestone quarry in Bristol in south-west England. The genus
was named in 1836, and it was the first dinosaur ever reported from
the Triassic. The remains were shown first to Samuel Stutchbury,
curator of the museum of the Bristol Institution. He recruited the
noted Bristol surgeon and anatomist Henry Riley to assist in
interpreting the bones, but local amateur geologist, the Reverend
David Williams, was competing to be the first to report the fossils.
The squabble between Stutchbury and Williams is reconstructed from
manuscript letters, and it highlights the clash between individuals,
but also between supposed professionals and amateurs in these early
days of the development of geology and palaeontology as sciences.