The Iguanodon (or Iguana tooth) is a genus of ornithopod dinosaurs. There are many different species of Iguanodons, dating back from the Kimmeridgian age in the Late Jurassic Period to the Cenomanian age in the Late Cretaceous Period from North America, Europe, and Asia. In addition, research from this century has confirmed that there was an Iguanadon that lived in Europe between 126 – 125 million years ago.
This genus was first discovered in 1822 and scientifically described 3 years later by Gideon Mantell, an English Geologist. It was the 2nd dinosaur that was formally named, after the Megalosaurus. Together with the Hylaeosaurus and the Megalosaurus, it was one of the first 3 genera that were originally used to define dinosaurs.
Scientific understanding of the Iguanodon has evolved over time, as information has been obtained from fossils discovered since 1822. Numerous skeletons of the Iguanodon have been found, including near complete skeletons from well-known bonebeds. As a result, this has allowed Researchers to make more informed theories regarding many aspects of this animal such as social behaviour, movement, and feeding.
Iguanodons are typically bulky and were herbivores. The best known Iguanodon species is the Iguanodon bernissartensis, which weight about 3 tonnes and measured 10 metres long as an adult. Some specimens have been thought to be as long as 13 metres. Iguanodons were large and tall, but had a narrow skull with a toothless beak. This beak was most likely covered with keratin. Its arms were long, and approximately up to 75% of the length of its legs. Its arms were robust, but had inflexible hands.
One of the Iguanodons at Crystal Palace, London
Since it was first scientifically described in 1825, the Iguanodon has featured in mainstream culture. For example, 2 life-size reconstructions were built at Crystal Palace in London in 1852 due to the popularity of this genus. In addition, there have been several movies that have featured this dinosaur. This includes Dinosaur by Disney, which featured an Iguanodon called Aladar. Disney’s Animal Kingdom also tried to bring the Iguanodon to the present day generation. It is also 1 of the 3 dinosaur genera which inspired the famous film, Godzilla. It has also made appearances in the film and TV show, Land Before Time. In the scientific world, a main belt asteroid was named 9941 Iguanodon in honour of this genus.