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Friday, July 6, 2007

Iguanodon

Rendition of Iguanodon bernissartensis.
Iguanodon and the ornithopods' culmination in the (meaning "Iguana tooth") is a genus of ornithopod dinosaur that lived roughly halfway between the first of the swift bipedal hypsilophodontidsduck-billed dinosaurs. Most Iguanodon species lived between 140 to 120 million years ago, in the Valanginian to Barremian ages of the Early Cretaceous Period of Europe, although possible remains are known from North America, Asia, and Africa. Iguanodon's most distinctive features were its large thumb spikes, which were possibly used for defence against predators.

Discovered in 1822 and described three years later by English geologist Gideon Mantell, Iguanodon was the second dinosaur formally named, after Megalosaurus. Together with Megalosaurus and Hylaeosaurus, it was one of the three genera originally used to define Dinosauria. A large, bulky herbivore, Iguanodon is a member of Iguanodontia, along with the duck-billed hadrosaurs. The taxonomy of this genus continues to be a topic of study as new species are named or long-standing ones reassigned to other genera.

Scientific understanding of Iguanodon has evolved over time as new information has been obtained from the fossils. The numerous specimens of this genus, including nearly complete skeletons from two well-known bonebeds, have allowed researchers to make informed hypotheses regarding many aspects of the living animal, including feeding, movement, and social behaviour. As one of the first scientifically well-known dinosaurs, Iguanodon has occupied a small but notable place in the public's perception of dinosaurs, its artistic representation changing significantly in response to new interpretations of its remains

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