Goodbye super-inclusive Iguanodon, hello Mantellisaurus, Owenodon, Dakotadon, Dollodon, Barilium, Kukufeldia, Hypselospinus, Sellacoxa, Proplanicoxa etc. etc.

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My three-part series on the 'explosion of Iguanodon' is now complete and up on the Scientific American guest blog: part I is here, part II here, and part III here. Part III wraps things up and looks briefly at the social inertia that has held back our understanding of Iguanodon sensu lato, and also at the fact that some of the new names are unlikely to stand the test of time [the composite image above combines Greg Paul's illustrations of (at right, top to bottom) I. bernissartensis, Dollodon and Mantellisaurus, the skull of Dakotadon (at top left), and David Norman's skeletal reconstruction of the Mantel-piece].

Among the rash of new names - Mantellisaurus, Owenodon, Dakotadon, Dollodon bampingi, Barilium, Kukufeldia, Torilion, Hypselospinus, Wadhurstia, Sellacoxa, Proplanicoxa and
Dollodon seelyi - two are already objective junior synonyms [Paul's skeletal reconstructions of Dollodon and Mantellisaurus are shown below, with Dollodon at top. Images © Greg Paul, used with permission].

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I want to thank Bora for helping me in getting these articles published on the Sci Am blog - their appearance there might mean that they are more visible than they would be if published here at Tet Zoo (but... I don't know). However, I have to say that I'm not happy with the 'look' of the articles: I've become increasingly 'image-led' on Tet Zoo, and I don't feel satisfied with the small size and wide spacing of the images on the Sci Am blog. The fact that some of the images are scrunched-up is also a major downer: to compensate for this (hopefully it'll get sorted out, and I apologise for complaining about it), I've posted the afflicted images here [images below show stratigraphic chart for the Wealden Supergroup (from Naish 2010) and an assortment of English iguanodontian fossils and their places of discovery; from Naish & Martill (2008)]

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Finally, the total lack of comments at Sci Am is a bit telling. I think the fact that you have to register before commenting is putting people off - dear readers, please confirm or deny. Anyway, more news on the diversity of Lower Cretaceous iguanodontians is due to appear real soon, and lots more work on the taxa discussed in these articles is currently underway. The Iguanodon mess has been discussed before on Tet Zoo, see...

For the Scientific American series, see...

Ref - -

Naish, D. 2010. Pneumaticity, the early years: Wealden Supergroup dinosaurs and the hypothesis of saurischian pneumaticity. In Moody, R,. T. J., Buffetaut, E., Naish, D. & Martill, D. M. (eds) Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Saurians: A Historical Perspective. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 343, pp. 229-236.

- . & Martill, D. M. 2008. Dinosaurs of Great Britain and the role of the Geological Society of London in their discovery: Ornithischia. Journal of the Geological Society, London 165, 613-623.

Finally, the total lack of comments at Sci Am is a bit telling. I think the fact that you have to register before commenting is putting people off - dear readers, please confirm or deny.

Confirm, at least in my case. I usually don't read SciAm online, but, in general, I won't leave a comment if I have to register first.

But then, I am about 90% troll, so YMMV.

Off to read the SciAm articles now :)

By mad the swine (not verified) on 17 Nov 2010 #permalink

I confirm.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 17 Nov 2010 #permalink

In part 3, you mentioned "(5) controversial Isle of Wight Dollodon bampingi" - isn't the holotype of this (IRSNB 1551) from Belgium, and not from IOW?

Ignoring the technical issues of the Sci Am blog out of your control, this is an excellent series of articles, Darren

Definitely. I rarely comment on blogs that require registration; they have to really make me desperate to comment to get me to jump through that hoop.

Many individuals and organisations severely overestimate the pleasure we (or I, at least) get out of commenting. It's small, so the barriers placed in the way of commenting need to be proportionately small.

Not that I believe in whining to site owners about it; they have a perfect right. But in return, I expect them not to complain to me that I'm not playing in their sandbox.

PS, love the iguanadon article.

Thank you for the images, I was going blind trying to read from SA (where, BTW, they have the images in good, if small, shape but display they wonky: http://tinyurl.com/sa-image-example ).

I confirm as well, as I alluded to in the last post. I note that Brian Switek's new Laelapss (at Wired.com) receives two or three comments per post, whereas the Scienceblogs version often garnered ten or more. I chalk this up to the same phenomenon--people don't want to register for a million different blog sites.

Excellent articles, Darren! It's interesting to me not just that dear old Iguanadon has been split into so many distinct genera, but also that the family is so wonderfully diverse!

By Zach Miller (not verified) on 17 Nov 2010 #permalink

Yes,

having to register to record comments is offputting.
I would have to have something I REALLY wanted to say before I would bother.

LeeB.

I too suffer from Registration Fatigue. As lightweight as my comments are here, mostly just expressing thanks to you, Darren, and amazement at the erudition of the (other) commenters, I would not bother if I had to have another registration.

By Mike from Ottawa (not verified) on 17 Nov 2010 #permalink

Confirmed here too, and I second Zach's comment about Laelaps. However, I'm happy you wrote this series since I lost track of the Iguanodon issue sometime around Mantellisaurus. Now we need a series on the billion basal titanosaurs, though perhaps that's a job better left to SV-POW.

I can confirm that though not a prolific commenter I was going to comment on the sciam blog until I found I had to register.

Incidentally I recently saw your Dinosaur Discoveries book on sale in the Albany, Auckland branch of Borders so you truly have a global presence as an author now!

By RStretton (not verified) on 17 Nov 2010 #permalink

I think the fact that you have to register before commenting is putting people off

It sure does, me.

"I think the fact that you have to register before commenting is putting people off"

Absolutely. Comments are often written on weakly-willed whims that are easily disuaded when some kind of registration is required.

Fantastic series! On the subject of social inertia, I don't think we can discount the reverse--a gradual changing of how we think of genera. Pre-phylogenetic taxonomy, there was no problem having a large genus representing a grade, with various intermediates between camptosaurs and hadrosaurs. Nowadays, paleontologists are loath to retain paraphyletic genera. This leads to a lot of splitting and leaves most genera monotypic. Not that this is a bad thing, but it's as much a result of changing philosophies of taxonomy as social inertia to follow Lydekker's lead.

agree with all the above posts.

By David Houston (not verified) on 17 Nov 2010 #permalink

I am not much of a commenter anyway, but the only registration I am willing to do to comment on a random blog is OpenID. If it isn't that or open comments, I just give up.

Yes Darren, the SciFi Am registering will put off just about everybody. It has nothing to do with you; except that almost everybody looking you up is far and away superior to the run of the mill PC-correct, academic-slavish types.

Honest truth: we love you frank discussions and tireless articles. I nearly blew a gasket the other day watching an asswipe refer you in a flippant manner with regards to cryptozoology. I will chew the stupid asshole (who posts almost nothing, [believes that Aeteogate is just a few bad apples] and so on, stupid self-smug retard.).

I'll join the choir re: registration.

By Andreas Johansson (not verified) on 17 Nov 2010 #permalink

I also find it irritating to have to register to leave or see comments (I assumed the total lack of comments was because you had to regisater to read them - doh), but decided that I would go through the rigmarole on the occasion because, hey, it's Darren.
I'm still waiting for their registration system to get back to me with my log-in details, so no cigar for Sci Am!
As for social inertia, that may be part of it, but I would also agree on changing ideas of taxonomy. Speaking personally, I used to be a lumper, but now see more taxa that need splitting apart.
A quick question on the Iguanodon s.l. issue: is Dollodon known from the Isle of Wight, or is it strictly Belgian? I may have just answered my own question; the dentary of MIWG.6344, figured as "I. atherfieldensis" in Naish and Martill 2001, looks long and slender and so more like Dollodon than Mantellisaurus. I can imagine that sorting out postcranial elements of the two is going to be tricky. It was so much easier when you could say "there's a big species and a small one in this fauna, and that's it".

By Mark Evans (not verified) on 17 Nov 2010 #permalink

I also registered as a Sci Am commenter yesterday - understandably, since people have posted comments that require my response - and I am still (more than 12 hours later) waiting for the registration email to arrive!

Regarding my mistake of describing Dollodon as from the Isle of Wight, this is because I inadvertently remembered MIWG.6344 (well done Mark). It definitely 'belongs' to Paul's concept of Dollodon.

Dakotadon

Why isn't it Dakotodon?

Oh, and I dislike registration too.

believes that Aeteogate is just a few bad apples

It is a few bad apples; plagiarism and scooping aren't that widespread in vert. paleo. or science in general.

The only part to disagree with is the "just" part; a few bad apples are a very serious problem.

I also find it irritating to have to register to leave or see comments (I assumed the total lack of comments was because you had to regisater to read them - doh)

What? There are assholes out there who require you to register for just seeing comments!?! That must be punished.

It was so much easier when you could say "there's a big species and a small one in this fauna, and that's it".

Except... I volunteered at the Dinosaur Farm Museum in 1999. I was taught the difference between the big and robust I. bernissartensis and the small and gracile "I." atherfieldensis... and then Steven Hutt pulled out a gracile bone that looked like every other "I." atherfieldensis metatarsal, except it was huge, on the large side of things even for I. bernissartensis.

and I am still (more than 12 hours later) waiting for the registration email to arrive!

You have checked your spam folder, right? Somehow, confirmation e-mails often look like spam in their headers and get caught.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 18 Nov 2010 #permalink

Why isn't it Dakotodon?

Because very few people know Greek or even Latin anymore -- so few that the ICZN doesn't require getting it right.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 18 Nov 2010 #permalink

David: yes, I often check my spam folder. And I've been shown that 'giant Mantellisaurus metatarsal' too. Incidentally, note that the Wessex Formation Mantellisaurus material (a great deal of which is mentioned or figured in Martill & Naish's Dinosaurs of the Isle of Wight) is Barremian, whereas Hooley's type specimen is Aptian. Just sayin'.

Re: registration, if content providers want some kind of registration why don't they use OpenID. Pretty much everyone who uses any blogging platform already has one, and it makes even disparately hosted blogs seem part of a larger community.

There's no point in having to register for one site these days.

By Dave Godfrey (not verified) on 18 Nov 2010 #permalink

What? There are assholes out there who require you to register for just seeing comments!?! That must be punished.

My mistake. I assumed that as it said "0 comments" I had to register to see all the comments that had been left. As it was, there actually were no comments. There are now 4, and 1.5 of those are complaints about the SciAm blogging platform.

I volunteered at the Dinosaur Farm Museum in 1999

I volunteered in 1995, but never got shown the "giant Mantellisaurus metatarsal". Too bad.

I wouldn't be surprised if the registration email hasn't become a casualty of our corporate "Firewall of Death".

By Mark Evans (not verified) on 18 Nov 2010 #permalink

Well, FWIW my SciAm confirmation email never arrived, but I was still able to post a comment with the username/password I entered in registration.

"Is anybody doing the same with Megalosaurus?"

Unlike Iguanodon, people have been on top of most supposed Megalosaurus species for a while. Proceratosaurus, Majungasaurus, Altispinax, Magnosaurus, Betasuchus, Valdoraptor, Duriavenator, Metriacanthosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus, Erectopus, Dilophosaurus, etc..

The "only" species left (about 15) are either undescribed or generally dumped into the nomen dubium pile, with the exception of cambrensis.

The "only" species left (about 15) are either undescribed or generally dumped into the nomen dubium pile

Most of them are known from an isolated tooth or two.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 19 Nov 2010 #permalink

" I have to say that I'm not happy with the 'look' of the articles: I've become increasingly 'image-led' on Tet Zoo..."

In an ideal world, Science Blogs should help you post even larger, wider images on this website, and all blog posts should be accompanied by an image drawn by a few select artists (hint hint,) exclusively for that post :)

By C. M. Kosemen (not verified) on 19 Nov 2010 #permalink

"As for social inertia, that may be part of it, but I would also agree on changing ideas of taxonomy. Speaking personally, I used to be a lumper, but now see more taxa that need splitting apart."

(from comment 20). Changing ideas on taxonomy can explain the taxonomy up to about the 1970s perhaps. But social inertia must be the main factor in the more recent decades, otherwise there would have been a rash of papers splitting _Iguanodon_ to pieces during the 1980s and early 1990s, right?

By Bradley F (not verified) on 19 Nov 2010 #permalink

has there been any study regarding the ilium of the Bernissart Iguanodons to show if this particular bone show variation within the species?

By Red Bragais (not verified) on 01 Dec 2010 #permalink