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SCELIDOSAURUS

a plant-eating ankylosaurian dinosaur from the Early Jurassic of England.
scelidosaurus
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 leg bone chosen by Richard Lyddekker turned out to be from a carnosaur. Still, the ICZN later designated BMNH R1111—a specimen from a private collection that looks like a squished cat—as a replacement type which saved this particular thyreophoran — or "shield bearer" — from certain obscurity. They didn't clarify which branch of Thyreophora it belonged to though.

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.
Estimations
Timeline:
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Early Jurassic
Stage: Simemurian-Pliensbachian
Age range: 195-182 mya
Stats:
Est. max. length: 4 meters
Est. max. hip height: 0.8 meters
Est. max. weight: 250 Kg
Diet: Herbivore
Family Tree:
Dinosauria
Ornithischia
Thyreophora
Scelidosaurus
harrisonii
References
• Norman D.B. (2001) "Professor Richard Owen and the important but neglected dinosaur Scelidosaurus harrisonii".
• Norman D.B. (2001) "Scelidosaurus, the earliest complete dinosaur" in "The Armored Dinosaurs (Life of the Past)".
• Norman D.B, Witmer L.M. and Weishampel D.B. (2004) "Basal Thyreophora" in Weishampel, Dodson and Osmólska (eds.) "The Dinosauria: Second Edition".
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "SCELIDOSAURUS :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 26th Mar 2017.
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