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Hylaeosaurus as "Wealden lizard"

Ben Creisler

This is mainly a response to a discussion over on the VRTPALEO list,
but it may be interest to the DML as well...

Here's what a quick check of the history of "Hylaeo-" to mean
"Wealden" turned up:

English weald "wooded area, forest" and thus the region of Southeast
England called the Weald.


In 1828 British geologist Peter J. Martin invented the term Wealden
for the geological formation:

"And to avoid the inconvenience of the periphrasis of weald sands and
clays, it is proposed, as any compound from weald must have a Saxon
termination, to call the whole formation the Wealden." [pg. 9]


Martin, P. J. 1828. A geological memoir on a part of western Sussex
with some observations upon chalk-basins, the weald-denudation, and
outliers-by-protrusion. J. Booth, London pp. 100


Greek meanings:

Greek *hyle* "wood, forest" and derived adjective Greek *hylaios* "of
(belonging to) the wood or forest"



In Latinized form *hylaios* becomes *hylaeus*.


"Hylaeo-" as Wealden

Hylaeosaurus Mantell, 1833 "forest lizard"

In 1833:

"[Mantell] suggested the name of Hylaeosaurus, or Forest-Lizard, to
indicate its locality, the Forest of Tilgate."  [pg. 411]


Mantell, Gideon Algernon. 1833.  Observations on the remains of the
Iguanodon, and other fossil reptiles, of the strata of Tilgate Forest
in Sussex.  Proc. geol. Soc. London: 410-411.

Hylaeosaurus as "Wealden lizard"

BUT in 1841 Mantell gave this meaning, either after it had occurred to
him or it had been pointed out to him that "hylaeo-" had a very
similar meaning to Wealden:

"Hylaeosaurus or Wealden Lizard." [pg. 141]


Mantell, Gideon Algernon. 1841.  Memoir on a portion of the lower jaw
of the Iguanodon, and on the remains of the Hylaeosaurus and other
saurians, discovered in the strata of Tilgate Forest, in Sussex.
Philos. Trans. Roy. Soc. London CXXXI 131-151, pls. V-X.


In 1851, he gave a fuller explanation of the double meaning for the name:


>From *hyle*, *sylva*, wood, Weald, or forest ; and saurus, lizard ;
the WEALDEN LIZARD, or Fossil Lizard of Tilgate Forest."


Mantell, G.A. 1851. Petrifactions and their teachings, or, A hand-book
to the gallery of organic remains of the British Museum by Gideon
Algernon Mantell. H.G. Bohn, London.


Owen then borrowed the idea to refer to the Wealden Formation, in this
case on the Isle of Wight:

Hylaeochampsa Owen, 1874 "Wealden crocodile"

"Hylaeochampsa vectiana....

Gr. *hyle*, wood or weald; *khampsa*, an Egyptian name for the
crocodile. The specific name relates to the locality of the fossil."

[vectiana for Latin Vectis "Isle of Wight"]


Owen, Richard. 1874.  Monograph on the fossil Reptilia of the Wealden
and Purbeck Formations. Supplement no. VI. (Hylaeochampsa.).
Palaeontogr. Soc. Mon XXVII 7 pp., pl.


Other examples include Hylaeobatrachus Dollo, 1884  and Hylaeochelys
Lydekker, 1889.

However, generic names for living animals with Hylaeo- come from the
Greek meanings for either a forest or for something made of wood.