The Representation of Dinosaurs

Dragons look different all over the world, but dinosaurs looked also very different in the past.

When Gideon Mantell found the remains of what later became known as Iguanodon in 1820, he first thought of a crocodile. When he took a closer look, it became clear that he had found among other bones the teeth of an ancient reptillian herbivore. Other naturalists first dismissed them as either fish teeth or those of a rinoceros, until they noticed similarity with the teeth of iguana. Mantle gave the creature therefore the name Iguanodon (Iguana-tooth in Greek). In 1834 another incomplete fossil of the animal was found, which lead to the first artistic renderings of Iguanodon. A well-known mistake Mantell made was intrepretent the thumb-claw as a horn, placed on the nose.


In 1878 coal mine workers in Belgium found what is still the largest Iguanodon finding to date. With 38 individual animals found researchers were now able to construct an almost complete skeleton of the animal. Though, Louis Dollo took wallabies for reference and mounted the skeleton upright as he thought the smaller forearms wouldn’t help to support the weight. In the artistic renderings of that time, one can still very well see the reference to crocodiles.

It wasn’t until the 1960 that Iguanodon was researched more and researchers now concluded that there was no way that the dinosaur would have walked around like a kangaroo. Its tail just couldn’t bend like that without breaking. Iguanodon was a tetrapod herbivore which could stand for a short period on it’s hind legs, but had to walk on four.

It was also around that time that other dinosaurs got an ‘update’, for example the widely known Tyrannosaurus was also thought to walk upright when it was found in the early 20th century. In the 1970s researchers concluded that Tyrannosaurus wouldn’t be able to balance its weight when walking upright, and that the tail would be held upright as counterbalance to the enormous head.