Iguanodon was one of the first dinosaurs to be discovered and an incredibly important puzzle piece to our modern understanding of the creatures. The herbivore stood three meters tall and weighed over 5 tons, with sharp thumb-like claws for defense and elongated little fingers to grasp at food. It was even capable of bipedal locomotion, using its tail as a counterweight.
This specimen is a pyritized fossil piece of an iguanodon from the Weald Clay deposits on the Isle of Wight. It dates back 125,000,000 years and shows an incredible internal pattern of glittering minerals.
📸 Pyritized Iguanadon bone featured with the dinosaur's hand
An Incredible Dinosaur
The incredible Iguanodon was a strong and advanced dinosaur. It lived in the Early Cretaceous over 120 million years ago and used an elongated finger to grasp and forage for food. Iguanodon was first described in 1825 and was one of the first genus of dinosaur to be studied. Our knowledge of this herbivore has changed quite a bit over the years but it remains at the forefront of our understanding of the Mesozoic world.
This particular iguanodon fossil has also undergone a beautiful pyritization effect. Every piece is embedded with gittering metallic minerals which fill the cavities in the bone.
📸 Each fossil is completely unique!
This specimen is a fossilized piece of iguanodon bone recovered from the Weald Clay Deposits on the Isle of Wight. It is estimated to be over 125,000,000 years old and dates back to the Cretacerous period.
Each specimen is housed in an acrylic jar that is encased within a glass-topped riker display box. The box measures 4 1/2" x 3 1/2". A small information card is also included, which serves as the certificate of authenticity.
Iguanodon specimens measure around 1-2 cm. The shape, pattern, and color of each piece is completely unique, with some showcasing golden pyrite and even agate. These minerals filled the holes of the spongy bone material and are a beautiful look at the inside of the iguanodon.
Temporal Range 126,000,00 to 113,000,000 years ago
MORE ABOUT IGUANODON
A "golden" fossil
Gilded with glittering minerals, this pyritized Iguanodon bone is both a striking fossil and a demonstration of a fascinating chemical process. Pyrite is a mineral composed of iron and sulfide with a brassy gold appearance, hence its common name, Fool's Gold. The mineral can grow on its own in crystal formations, or it can function as what’s called a replacement mineral in a rock or fossil, as is the case with this Iguanodon bone.
This replacement process occurs when a specimen is submerged in sediment that’s rich with iron. As the animal’s organic material begins to break down, it releases sulfide which interacts with the iron to produce pyrite, persevering the animal’s remains and infusing it with the replacement mineral. Pyritization is a specific kind of permineralization, a broader term that encompasses pyritization along with similar carbon and silicon-based processes.
From a golden dinosaur
Iguanodons were large herbivore dinosaurs that stood three meters tall and weighed at least 5 tons, reigning over the earth during the Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous periods. They sported a horny beak to better chow down on vegetation as well as razor sharp thumb-like claws used to defend themselves. Iguanodon’s name comes from the shape of their teeth, which superficially resemble an iguana’s, only twenty times larger. The animal was bipedal, balancing its mass on its hip joints and using its tail as a counterweight.
📸 Portrait of Gideon Mantell
The study of Iguanodon is intimately bound up with the study of dinosaurs as a whole. The species was discovered by obstetrician Gideon Mantell, whose reconstruction of Iguanodon set the standard for dinosaur studies. Mantell was an obstetrician who, like other learned men of his time, engaged in paleontology as a hobby. His studies in the Cuckfield quarry of West Sussex lead to the discovery of many species of dinosaur. More than that, Mantell was the first to formally document the geological and environmental context the animals lived in.
He understood them as more than just lumbering giants and theorized that dinosaurs were likely far more complex and diverse than previously thought.
The iguanodon is also quite famous for a curious 1853 dinner party. Paleontologist Sir Richard Owen, who coined the word Dinosauria, hosted a dinner for several guests that may have been unremarkable... except for the fact that it was held inside one of the first life-size replicas of a dinosaur.
Dinner inside the Dinosaur
The iguanodon model could hold twenty one men inside its massive ribcage and many biologists and paleontolgists were invited to dine. Thanks to a preserved menu card, we know they were treated to a meal of turkey, pheasant, fruit, and pigeon pie.
The party was hosted at the Crystal Palace, an incredible structure built to host the 1851 Great Exhibition in London. Some of these sculptures even survive today and even though they could use some anatomy updates they're still quite fun to see!
Our understanding of iguanodons and dinosaurs at-large has changed quite a bit since the night Owen hosted his dinner, but the awe he and his guests must have felt that night remains felt today.
Our understanding of Iguanodons have gone through many changes over the years. These original statues from the Crystal Palace park show horned noses — we now know those horns were actually claw bones.
In our research, we also discovered something we simply couldn't leave out — the dinosaur dinner party had its own theme song written by Edward Forbes. It was sung within the model itself for the guests. Here's the lyrics below if you're looking for party music:
"A thousand ages underground / His skeleton has lain; / But now his body’s big and round, / And he’s himself again! / His bones, like Adam’s, wrapped in clay, / His ribs of iron stout, / Where is the brute alive today / That dares to turn him out? / Beneath his hide he’s got inside / The souls of living men; / Who dare our saurian now deride / With life in him again? / (Chorus) The jolly old beast / Is not deceased / There’s life in him again (ROAR!)"
Front of the Specimen Card
Back of the Specimen Card
Prothero, Donald R. “Iguanodon: Gideon Mantell, Louis Dollo, and the First Dinosaur Fauna.” Columbia University Press, 2019, p. 16.
Pyrite: A Natural History of Fool's Gold- Rickard, David T.
Fastovsky, David E., and David B. Weishampel. Dinosaurs: A Concise Natural History. 2009. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2009. eBook.
Godefroit, Pascal, Johan Yans, and Pierre Bultynck. "Bernissart and the Iguanodons: historical perspective and new investigations." Bernissart Dinosaurs and Early Cretaceous Terrestrial Ecosystems. Ed. Pascal Godefroit. Indiana: University Press. 2012. eBook.
Verdú, Francisco J., et al. "Perinates of a new species of Iguanodon (Ornithischia: Ornithopoda) from the lower Barremian of Galve (Teruel, Spain)." Cretaceous Research 56 (2015): 250-264.