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Known locations: Initially associated with Western Europe, attributed remains are now known in Africa, Asia and North America. Size: Specimens seem to average around the 10 meter long mark, but some individuals are possibly as large as 13 meters long.It is bordered to the north by Denmark, to the east by Poland and the Czech Republic, to the south by Austria and Switzerland, and to the west by France, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands.Germany is a federation of 16 states, roughly corresponding to regions with their own distinct and unique cultures. Fossil representation: Many specimens resulting in reconstruction of complete examples. Iguanodon has a firm place within dinosaur history books, not just because of the large expanse of fossil material attributed to it, but because it was the second dinosaur to ever be identified and named. The first dinosaur was actually Megalosaurus which was named a year earlier, and back then the term dinosaur didn't even exist. Classification: Chordata, Reptilia, Dinosauria, Ornithischia, Ornithopoda. Time period: Kimmeridgian of the Jurassic through to the Barremian/Aptian of the Cretaceous. Some specimens from some parts of the world suggest as late as the Cenomanian of the Cretaceous.
The exact discovery of Iguanodon has become something of a popular story, but with successive retelling some of the details have become a little blurred. The main area of this is just who discovered the first Iguanodon teeth, one Gideon Mantell, or his wife Mary Ann. Gideon Mantell was a practising obstetrician and the popular version of this story is that his wife Mary Ann discovered the first teeth in a quarry in Whiteman's Green, Sussex while he was visiting a patient in 1822. However a statement by Gideon Mantell himself in 1851 stated that it was he who had found the original teeth. Mantell's notes dating back to 1820 also show that he had discovered other material as well as different teeth from what we would call today a carnivorous theropod. There is also a mention of the discovery of teeth that seem to have belonged to a herbivore. This is why who discovered the Iguanodon teeth varies depending upon who is telling the story. - On the ornithoidichnites of the Wealden - Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London 10: 456–464.
The next bit of Iguanodon's forelimb specialisation is the hand itself, specifically the five digits. Easiest thing to do here is if you look at the back of your hand and open your fingers up so that you can easily see all five of your digits (four fingers and a thumb). The centre three digits of Iguanodon's hand were robust and packed close together. This would be like you putting your three central digits (index, middle and ring fingers) close together so that they were one. As you may now appreciate this results in an inflexible portion of the hand, but in Iguanodon this was not a problem as it provided the main weight bearing area of the limb when Iguanodon was walking on all fours. This leaves the thumb which in Iguanodon was just a single large spike. The remaining fifth digit (your little finger, or 'pinkie') was actually very flexible to the point of being prehensile. Easiest way to describe what prehensile means is if you look a picture of a chameleon you may notice that its tail is curved around the branch it is holding on to, this is an extreme case of a prehensile tail. The little finger of Iguanodon however, probably could not flex to this extreme. The finger was however capable of wrapping itself around a high piece of vegetation so that Iguanodon could pull it down and feed upon parts of a plant that would otherwise have been out of reach.
It is this flexibility of switching between bipedal and quadrupedal posture and feeding on both low and moderately high vegetation that allowed Iguanodon to spread out across a wide area. Smaller ornithopods would have had to make do with browsing low vegetation and more primitive larger ornithopods would have been more suited to feeding on certain kinds of plants that they could reach. Iguanodon's specialisations not only allowed it to compete with other ornithopods but also low browsing armoured dinosaurs like the stegosaurids as well as the smaller sauropods. Being occasionally bipedal even while feeding means that you can see as well as possibly smell further. This is something that would have given Iguanodon an advantage in spotting predatory dinosaurs sooner than other low browsing dinosaurs were able too.
Initially the teeth were a secondary concern for Mantell as he was more concerned about the reconstruction of the bones and theropod teeth. Back then the idea of animals like dinosaurs had not yet been conceived and so bones like these were usually taken as being part of an animal similar to those alive at the time. In this case Mantell thought that he was dealing with a crocodile because of the shape of the carnivorous teeth. The herbivore teeth were however considered by Mantell to belong to a different but possibly equally massive reptile.
In 1822 the herbivore teeth were submitted to the Geological Society of London, but the response was not positive as the members declared the teeth to belong to either a rhinoceros or possibly a fish. Interestingly one of these members was William Buckland, who under two years later would actually go on to name the first dinosaur, Megalosaurus. Just over a year after this in 1823, Charles Lyell showed some of the teeth to Georges Cuvier, A French naturalist who used techniques of comparative anatomy to identify fossil animals. One of Cuvier’s most famous successes was that he was the first person to correctly identify the pterosaur Pterodactylus as a flying reptile. Initially Cuvier had the same conclusion as the Geological society in that the teeth were of a rhinoceros, but the next day he actually doubted that interpretation. Unfortunately Lyell's communication to Mantell only contained Cuvier's initial opinion of the teeth, something that resulted in Mantell putting the teeth to one side.
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Iguanodon Species and Classification When Iguanodon was first named by Gideon Mantell in 1825 it was simply named 'Iguanodon' with no specific species name. Friedrich Holl created I. anglicum for the holotype of the tooth which had to be changed to I. anglicus for correct grammar. In 1832 Christian Erich Hermann von Meyer named another species I. mantelli which has since been renamed as Dollodon. The discovery of multiple Iguanodon remains in a coal mine near Bernissart in Belgium resulted in a creation of another species I. bernissartensis by George Albert Boulenger in 1881. Because the holotype I. anglicus is based upon only a tooth it is not considered to be diagnostic enough to identify new species, especially when the teeth of other specimens are not present. This had led to the establishment of I. bernissartensis as the neotype, which now replaces I. anglicus as the type that all modern fossils are compared to when palaeontologists suspect they may have found Iguanodon remains. Like other early dinosaurs like Megalosaurus, Iguanodon has suffered from the wastebasket taxon effect resulting in much of the material originally being assigned to it being later found to actually belong the same as other species or even to other dinosaurs. This is particularly the case for far flung specimens from North America and Asia, but even some European specimens have since been found to actually be other species. Most of the species which are still sometimes mentioned are considered dubious in that they probably do no warrant their own group. Unfortunately the list varies between individual palaeontologists and resources, and the only 'safe' species now is the neotype I. bernissartensis. - Monograph on the Fossil Reptilia of the Wealden and Purbeck Formations. Dinosauria (Hylaeosaurus) - Paleontographical Society Monograph 10: 1–26. - Note sur les restes de dinosauriens recontrs dans le Crtac Suprieur de la Belgique.