Science Honors 200 Years of Research on Dinosaurs

William Buckland, a Christian clergyman and scientist from Britain, addressed the Geological Society of London on February 20, 1824. He talked about how a massive jaw and other bones were discovered at a rock mine in the English community of Stonesfield, which is close to Oxford. Buckland determined that these relics belonged to a massive extinct reptile. He named it Megalosaurus, the scientific word for “great lizard.” Even though the term “dinosaur” did not emerge for some more years, this marked the official recognition of the first dinosaur. According to paleontologist Steve Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh, Buckland’s talk “was the beginning of our fascination with dinosaurs.”

 

He claimed that “his announcement opened the flood gates,” inspiring many others to begin their own fossil searches. According to Brusatte, “people went out looking for other giant bones in England and beyond.” After over 200 years, the field of dinosaur study has grown tremendously. Much has been discovered by researchers regarding the appearance, physiology, and evolution of these organisms. Researchers also discovered the reason behind the extermination of the prehistoric mammals. During the Mesozoic Era, dinosaurs existed from roughly 231 million to 66 million years ago. The modern birds descended from them. There are more than 2,000 dinosaur species known to science.

 

“Since the 19th century, our understanding of dinosaurs has changed significantly,” Oxford University Museum of Natural History paleontologist Emma Nicholls said. The Megalosaurus specimens that Buckland examined are found there. Other dinosaur researchers discovered in the 1840s that certain dinosaurs had four legs while others only had two. Theropods are a category of animals that includes the Megalosaurus. Tyrannosaurus and Spinosaurus, two meat-eating dinosaurs that “scampered” on their legs, are also members of this group. According to Brusatte, both species could reach heights of up to nine meters and subdued victims with their powerful, fang-like jaws and keen claws. Dinosaur remains have been discovered all around the world. In the 1870s, the first complete dinosaur skeletons were assembled.

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