Edward Cope's reconstruction of Laelaps aquilunguis. This work was on display in the original exhibition as item 11. Image source: Cope, Edward Drinker. "The fossil reptiles of New Jersey," in: American Naturalist, vol. 3 (1869), pp. 84-91, pl. 2.

Paper Dinosaurs 1824-1969

An Exhibition of Original Publications from the Collections of the Linda Hall Library

Theropods and Sauropods

The Bernissart Iguanodons, 1884 

Restoration of I. mantelli. This work was on display in the original exhibition as item 17. Image source: Dollo, Louis. "Cinquieme note sur les dinosauriens de Bernissart," in: Bulletin de Muse Royal d'Histoire Naturelle de Belgique, vol. 3 (1884-1885), pl. 7.

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In 1878, deep underground in Bernissart, Belgium, miners tapped into what would prove to be a true mother lode of dinosaur fossils--dozens of Iguanodon skeletons jumbled together in a rocky matrix, many fully articulated. The fossils were slowly excavated, and Louis Dollo began to publish a series of papers based on the finds. Two different species were discovered, the smaller I. mantelli that was well known from the English Weald, and a new, larger species, I. bernissartensis. One conclusion was inescapable--after decades of debate over whether Iguanodon was bipedal or quadrupedal, the Bernissart specimens confirmed that Iguanodon was bipedal, and Dollo had it restored with a very upright posture.

The first published restoration of I. bernissartensis appeared in this journal in 1882, but we chose for exhibition an 1884 restoration of I. mantelli, because of the unusual nature of the plate. First of all, it is a print made directly from a photograph, rather than a drawing. Second, it is a photograph of an actual mount, with the structural supports readily visible. If this is not the first published illustration of an actual skeletal mount, it is a close contender.

Dollo's pose determined how iguanodons were to be exhibited for nearly a century, especially when the British Museum in 1895 acquired a cast of a Bernissart Iguanodon and set it up in their Reptile Gallery.

A British Iguanodon from Brussels, 1895

Iguanodon cast. This work is part of our History of Science Collection, but it was NOT included in the original exhibition. Image source: Woodward, Henry. "Note on the reconstruction of Iguanodon in the British Museum (Natural History), Cromwell Road," in: Geological Magazine, series 4, vol. 2 (1895), pp. 288-289, pl. 10.

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In 1895 the British Museum (Natural History) acquired a cast of a Bernissart Iguanodon from the Royal Museum of Natural History in Brussels. The British Museum had at the time three entire wall-cases and two table-cases devoted to Iguanodon remains, including Mantell's slab with the Maidstone Iguanodon, but as Henry Woodward says in this article, they somehow fail to impress with the same degree of interest as the huge skeleton, even if it was a reproduction.

Woodward, who was at the time president of the Geological Society of London, says that the cast was made by M. Depauw of one of the five skeletons on display at the Brussels museum.

The article is illustrated with a photograph of the skeleton as set up in the British Museum (Natural History.) If Dollo's illustration of I. mantelli is indeed the first published photograph of an actual dinosaur mount, then perhaps Woodward's illustration is the first published photograph of a dinosaur cast. The Iguanodon skeleton inspired a notable life restoration in Lydekker's Royal Natural History in 1896.

Iguanodon on its Haunches, 1896

Restoration of the Iguanodon. This work is part of our History of Science Collection, but it was NOT included in the original exhibition. Image source: Lydekker, Richard. The Royal Natural History. Volume IX: [Reptiles]. London: Warne, 1896, p. 33.

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The Reptile volume of Richard Lydekker's Royal Natural History contains a rarely-reproduced life restoration of Iguanodon. It was drawn by Alice B. Woodward, and shows the dinosaur in a squatting but upright position. It is probable that the pose was derived from the recently installed Iguanodon skeleton in the British Museum (Natural History).

Note that this Iguanodon does not have a horn as did earlier models (see for example Goodrich's Iguanodon, or that of Louis Figuier), but instead shows two thumb spikes, which utilize the previously-misplaced horn bones.