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THEIOPHYTALIA

a plant-eating styracosternan iguanodont dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of North America.
Pronunciation: thee-oy-fy-tal-ee-uh
Meaning: Garden of the Gods
Author/s: Brill and Carpenter (2006)
Synonyms: None known
First Discovery: Colorado, USA
Chart Position: 478

Theiophytalia kerri

Theiophytalia is based on a skull that James Hutchinson Kerr found in 1878 at Garden of the Gods Park amongst the remnants of "21 Sea Monsters", the biggest of which was thought to be some 117 feet long. Due to a lack of storage space at Colorado College where Kerr was acting president, most of these remains were stored in various barns, garden sheds and cellars, and were eventually lost. But such a discovery was unlikely to escape the attention of O.C Marsh — chief antagonist of E.D. Cope during the infamous bone wars — who was not averse to laying claim to other folk's discoveries.

True to form, Marsh was given said skull by Kerr in 1886, after which he posted it back to Yale's Peabody Museum, credited himself as collector, and referred it to Camptosaurus amplus which, as it turns out, was based on a right foot (YPM 1879) that actually belonged to Allosaurus. Then he combined it with more fragments (YPM 1880 — Camptosaurus medius) in 1894 to create a virtually rectangular composite that became the de facto head of Camptosaurus dispar — the Camptosaurus type specimen. This was confirmed by Gilmore in 1909 and accepted, without question, for the best part of a century.

With a new visitor center under construction at Garden of the Gods, the aforementioned skull was carted off to Denver Museum so a cast could be made for display in 1997, which is when their resident palaeontologist Ken Carpenter made some startling discoveries. The noggin is larger than usual for Camptosaurus, and sports a longer, heavier and more rugose snout, and smaller "windows" in front of its eye sockets. What's more, study of the surrounding residues proved that it wasn't from the Jurassic-aged Morrison Formation as Marsh had previously thought, but from the much younger, Early Cretaceous-aged lower Lytle Member of the Purgatoire Formation. Theiophytalia kerri appears to be a primitive styracosternan closer to iguanodontids (but closest to Hippodraco) than to camptosaurids, and was officially named in 2008.

Over the past decade or so, Camptosauridae has undergone something of a shake-up, with Camptosaurus amplus being chalked off as highly dubious and Camptosaurus medius being chalked up as a specimen of Camptosaurus dispar, along with almost all other species of Camptosaurus. Most paleontologists have happily accepted Theiophytalia though, despite being known from meagre remains, and it can't lay claim to more unless they're attached to, or at least associated with, identical skull bones that prove ownership.
(Kerr's Garden of the Gods)Etymology
Theiophytalia is derived from Greek "theios" (divine) and "phytalia" (garden), referring to "Garden of the Gods" where it was discovered.
The species epithet (kerri) honors James Hutchinson Kerr, who found the specimen.
Discovery
The remains of Theiophytalia were discovered at "Garden of the Gods", a park in the lower part of the Lytle Member, Purgatoire Formation, near Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado, by James Hutchinson Kerr in 1878. The holotype (YPM 1887) is a partial skull.
Estimations
Timeline:
Era: Mesozoic
Epoch: Early Cretaceous
Stage: Aptian-Albian
Age range: 118-110 mya
Stats:
Est. max. length: 6 meters
Est. max. hip height: ?
Est. max. weight: 700 Kg
Diet: Herbivore
References
• Brill, K. and Carpenter, K. (2006) "A Description of a New Ornithopod from the Lytle Member of the Purgatoire Formation and a Reassessment of the Skull of Camptosaurus" in "Horns and Beaks: Ceratopsian and Ornithopod Dinosaurs".
• Carpenter, K. and Ishida, Y. (2010) "Early and "Middle" Cretaceous Iguanodonts in Time and Space".
• Galton, P.M. and Powell, H.P. (1980) "The ornithischian dinosaur Camptosaurus prestwichii from the Upper Jurassic of England".
• Gilmore, C.W. (1909) "Osteology of the Jurassic reptile Camptosaurus: with a revision of the species of the genus, and description of two new species".
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To cite this page:
Atkinson, L. "THEIOPHYTALIA :: from DinoChecker's dinosaur archive".
›. Web access: 30th Mar 2017.
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