Since this is the first post of the new year, how about we honor a very special dinosaur. A dinosaur that not only has roots in New Jersey, but holds significance to American paleontology as a whole. Enter Hadrosaurus foulkii! Hadrosaurus was a plant-eating, duck-billed dinosaur, that lived in what is now New Jersey during the Late Cretaceous about 79 million years ago. It is known from the majority of a skeleton, minus the skull (bummer), and would have been twenty feet long from beak to tail. Since it was the first of its kind to be discovered, Hadrosaurus' name is used as the family name, hadrosauridae, for the entire group of duckbill-dinosaurs. Some of Hadrosaurus' relatives that have also been reviewed on here were Anatotitan, Maiasaura, Parasaurolophus, and Tsintaosaurus. Its genus name translates to "Bulky Lizard" and the species name is in honor of William Parker Foulke, who took part in its discovery.
|Life reconstruction of Hadrosaurus foulkii by Christopher DiPiazza.|
Hadrosaurus is a very important dinosaur not just because it was found in New Jersey, but because it was actually the first dinosaur ever dug up in all of the United States as well! This dinosaur's bones were dug up in what is now Haddonfield, New Jersey, in 1838. The man who discovered the first of its bones actually used them as decorations on his house until they were noticed by William Parker Foulke. Foulke was intrigued by these bones and ended up digging out more of them from where the original specimens were unearthed. Paleontologist, Joseph Leidy, correctly identified the bones as belonging to a dinosaur because of their similarity to Iguanodon, which had been discovered during the 1820s in England.
|Hadrosaurus skeletal mount at the Acadamy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.|
In 1868, a skeletal mount of Hadrosaurus was erected at the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, making it the first dinosaur skeleton to be mounted in the world. Since the skull was never found, a skull was sculpted based somewhat off of modern lizards (They worked off of what they knew.). It was also, however, posed standing on its hind limbs which was previously unheard of for any reptile, let alone dinosaur. We now know that Hadrosaurus would have definitely been able to stand and walk on its hind limbs and despite the fact that a skull was never actually found, it almost certainly had a broad, flattened beak of some sort like the rest of its hadrosaur kin.
|Photograph of the original Hadrosaurus skeletal mount. Note the lizard-like skull.|
When the subject of paleontology comes up in a casual conversation (because when you hang out with dorks like me it does a lot) most envision people digging in deserts out west in states like Utah, New Mexico, or the Dakotas. While this is true in a lot of cases, ground zero for American dinosaur fossil sites is actually in a wooded area in little old New Jersey. Because of this, New Jersey was the first state to give itself an official state dinosaur, Hadroaurus. (Technically we have two state dinosaurs if you count the Goldfinch.)
That is all for this week! As always comment below or on our facebook page with any requests. I already have a short list forming which I will try my best to get to painting in the next few weeks.
Gallagher, W.B. (2005). "Recent mosasaur discoveries from New Jersey and Delaware, USA: stratigraphy, taphonomy and implications for mosasaur extinction." Netherlands Journal of Geosciences, 84(3): 241.
Prieto-Márquez, A. (2011). "Revised diagnoses of Hadrosaurus foulkii Leidy, 1858 (the type genus and species of Hadrosauridae Cope, 1869) and Claosaurus agilis Marsh, 1872 (Dinosauria: Ornithopoda) from the Late Cretaceous of North America". Zootaxa 2765: 61–68.
Prieto-Marquez, A., Weishampel, D.B. and Horner, J.R. (2006). "The dinosaur Hadrosaurus foulkii, from the Campanian of the East Coast of North America, with a reevaluation of the genus." Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, 51(1): 77–98.