Museum Frankfurt


Igunanodon bernissartensis

Order: Ornithischia
Suborder: Cerapoda
Infraorder: Ornithopoda
Diet: plants
Weight: approx. 5 tons 
Length: approx. 8 metres
Age: 135-110 million years (Lower Cretaceous)
Fossil site: Bernissart (Belgium)

at Senckenberg:

(Original at Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles Belgique, Brussels/Belgium)

Iguanodon had unusual hands: the first finger (the thumb) was fused to a thick bony spine. A horny layer grew over that. Presumably, it used this thumb spike to defend itself against an attacker. The fifth finger could be opposed to the other fingers (gripping fingers). The three middle fingers were set with hooves.
Iguanodon tracks are also recorded in sandstone. In general only the imprints of the large three-toed hind feet can be recognized, but not imprints of front feet or tail. From this and the anatomy of its limbs, it can be concluded that the animals went just on their hind legs when running at a fast pace, not on all fours.
Iguanodon had teeth that crushed its food effectively. The specimens suggest that the animals
ate ferns, cycads, and horsetails. Because the teeth resemble those of herbivorous iguanas, this is how Iguanodon got its name (= iguana tooth). The English physician and geologist Gideon Mantell described this type in 1825. Iguanodon became the second dinosaur discovery which was recognized as such. Mantell had only a few bones available for its reconstruction. He mistakenly set the only thumb spike found as a horn on the tip of the nose.
Today, Iguanodon counts among the best-studied dinosaurs. Whole skeletons were discovered just in
Bernissart  in Belgium. The remains of 29 animals were excavated there; 23 of them are exhibited in the Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles Belgique in Brussels, some as they were found, others as mounted skeletons. The cast, which will be exhibited at the Senckenberg Museum, shows that of the best-preserved specimen. These fossils were also found in England, Spain, France, Germany, the USA and in Mongolia.

Patron: J.F.K. 

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