When & Where Was the First Dinosaur Fossil Found?

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When & Where Was the First Dinosaur Fossil Found?

Of the many things scientists have uncovered about our world, few are more fascinating than the discovery of dinosaurs. Many people love learning about these creatures because they’re so unlike many of the animals we know today. Delve into when and where was the first dinosaur fossil found here.

Discovering the First Fossil

Many experts believe that civilizations have been unearthing dinosaur bones for centuries. We do know that in 1677, a naturalist named Robert Plot unearthed a massive bone in Cornwell, Oxfordshire, England. He believed the fossil came from a giant human and categorized it as such. Plot published detailed illustrations of this bone, which he brought back with him, leaving the other fossils behind.

People accepted Plot’s claim for just over a century, still knowing nothing of the prehistoric animals that once ruled.

Correctly Labeling the First Fossil

In 1815, a geology professor at Oxford University, William Buckland, entered the scene. A well-traveled, highly educated man, Buckland obtained artifacts for Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum during his travels. Eventually, these travels led him to the same massive bones that Robert Plot had found nearly a century and a half ago.

Unlike Plot, Buckland didn’t think the bones could belong to giant humans, since the bones appeared too reptilian. Moreover, the teeth were sharp—evidence that they may have belonged to a carnivorous lizard. Buckland named the creature “Megalosaurus” without fully understanding what the prehistoric animal was—there was no word for “dinosaur” yet.

Although the scientific community knew of Buckland’s findings, the public remained unaware until Buckland published his findings in 1824.

The Word “Dinosaur”

An interesting fact regarding when and where was the first dinosaur fossil found is that we found fossils before we even had the word “dinosaur.” We wouldn’t have this word until 1842, when English zoologist Richard Owen created the prehistoric animal category.

Fossils in America

American scientists weren’t too far behind Buckland. In 1856, an American researcher named Joseph Leidy found fossils in the States, which he compared to those uncovered in England. He published a paper describing four types of reptilian teeth that had been discovered in Montana’s Judith River region.

Dinosaurs Today

Nowadays, we widely use the word “dinosaur” and have an entire category of science dedicated to research. Paleontologists are constantly uncovering more of these creatures’ bones and the truths surrounding them. For instance, we once believed dinosaurs only had scales, but through research and discovery, paleontologists have now concluded that many therapods had feathers. We’re constantly learning new information about these prehistoric animals, and we can only expect that to continue.

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