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a plant-eating ankylosaurian dinosaur from the Early Jurassic of England.
Pronunciation: SKEL-i-do-SOR-us
Meaning: Shin lizard
Author/s: Owen (1868)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Dorset, England
Chart Position: 15

Scelidosaurus harrisonii

Scelidosaurus was found in the Liassic cliffs of Charmouth, Dorset by James Harrison in 1858, and became the first essentially complete dinosaur to be subjected to proper scientific scrutiny when Sir Richard Owen put the finishing touches to its complete description in 1863. Owen, however, didn't designate a holotype, and the lectotype knee joint chosen by Richard Lyddekker turned out to be from a carnosaur. Still, the ICZN later designated BMNH R1111 as a replacement type in 1994, which saved this particular thyreophoran — or "shield bearer" — from certain obscurity.

Despite some features in common with Stegosaurus, Scelidosaurus may be more closely related to ankylosaurs than it is to stegosaurs, which is what Carpenter suspected in 2001 when he coined Ankylosauromorpha to group Scelidosaurus with Ankylosauria at the expense of Stegosauria and basal thyreophorans. Other paleontologists think this placement is too precise and reckon that the primitive Scelidosaurus evolved before Thyreophora split into ankylosaurs and stegosaurs. Needless to say, other paleontologists have their own opinions. But, whatever the case, we can't help thinking that Owen missed a trick.

Although bogged down with lectures, and collections to organise, a torrent of fossils from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa to review and plans for a dedicated museum of natural history to make, Owen still found the time for a heated Hippopotamus debate with Huxley and to "anonymously" chastise Darwin's theory of evolution. What he didn't have time to do, seemingly, was fire a broadside at Mantell and Leidy who were reconstructing dinosaurs as skinny lizards and kangaroo's respectively, which is suprising, because Scelidosaurus was built to support his long-held theory that some dinosaurs were actually heavy-limbed quadrupeds.

Wherever its affinities lie, Scelidosaurus — the shin lizard — had a remarkably small head and sported body armour. Given its robust build, it would have been very ponderous, more so than Bradycmene draculae whose shin was also ponderous, but Greek rather than Latin, and probably belonged to an alvarezsaurid... though it was originally thought to be a giant owl.
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Early Jurassic
Stage: Simemurian-Pliensbachian
Age range: 195-182 mya
Est. max. length: 4 meters
Est. max. hip height: 0.8 meters
Est. max. weight: 250 Kg
Diet: Herbivore
Family Tree:
• Owen R (1859) "Palaeontology". Page 150 in Encyclopædia Britannica Edition 8, Volume 17.
• Owen R (1861) "A monograph of a fossil dinosaur (Scelidosaurus harrisonii, Owen) of the Lower Lias, part I". Monographs on the British fossil Reptilia from the Oolitic Formations 1: 1-14.
• Owen R (1863) "A monograph of the fossil Reptilia of the Liassic Formations. Part 2. A monograph of a fossil dinosaur (Scelidosaurus harrisonii Owen) of the Lower Lias". Palaeontographical Society Monographs. Part 2. pp. 1-26.
• Lydekker R (1888) "Catalogue of the Fossil Reptilia and Amphibia in the British Museum. Part 1. Containing the Orders Ornithosauria, Crocodilia, Dinosauria, Squamata, Rhynchocephalia and Proterosauria". Page 181-182. British Museum (Natural History), London.
• Newman B H (1968) "The Jurassic dinosaur Scelidosaurus harrisoni, Owen". Palaeontology 11(1): 40-43.
• Steyskal G C (1970) "On the grammar of names formed with -scelus, -sceles, -scelis, etc.". Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 84(2): 7-12.
• Charig A J and Newman B H (1992) "Scelidosaurus harrisonii Owen, 1861 (Reptilia, Ornithischia): proposed replacement in inappropriate lectotype". Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature, 49: 280–283.
• Pickering S (1995) "Jurassic Park: Unauthorized Jewish Fractals in Philopatry". Page 478 in "A Fractal Scaling in Dinosaurology Project, 2nd revised printing". Capitola, California.
• Norman D B (2001) "Professor Richard Owen and the important but neglected dinosaur Scelidosaurus harrisonii". Historical Biology, 14: 235–253.
• Norman D B (2001) "Scelidosaurus, the earliest complete dinosaur". Page 3-24 in Norman D B (ed.) "The Armored Dinosaurs". Life of the Past series. Indiana University Press.
• Norman D B, Witmer L M and Weishampel D B (2004) "Basal Thyreophora". Page 335–342 in Weishampel, Dodson and Osmólska (eds.) "The Dinosauria: Second Edition". University of Californian Press.
• Benson R (2010) "The osteology of Magnosaurus nethercombensis (Dinosauria, Theropoda) from the Bajocian (Middle Jurassic) of the United Kingdom and a re-examination of the oldest records of tetanurans". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 8(1): 131-146.
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "SCELIDOSAURUS :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 27th Jun 2017.