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Megalosaurus (left) attacking an Othnielia (right)


















†M. bucklandi (type)

Megalosaurus was a genus of theropod dinosaur, that belonged to the family Megalosauruidae. This genus was one of the first dinosaurs to be named and described. Megalosaurus lived during the Bathonian stage of the Middle Jurassic in Europe, specifically England, France, and Portugal. At 12 meters (37 feet) in length, Megalosaurus was one of the largest theropods living in Europe during the Jurassic.

Discovery and Naming[]

In the year 1676, a fragment of bone was removed from a limestone quarry in Cornwell, England. Robert Plot, a professor at the University of Oxford, received this fragment, and identified it as a femur. He also realized that the animal to which the femur belonged, was larger than any identified species. Plot believed it to belong to a giant human. Over time, Plot's bone has been lost, but more discoveries were made, beginning with a find acquired by a geologist named William Buckland. Over the next few years, Buckland continued to receive bones, and by the year 1824, he had a lower mandible, some teeth, fragments of a pelvis, and a few other bones. Today, scientists doubt that all Buckland's bones belonged to the same individual. Buckland decided that the bones belonged to some kind of giant reptile, and placed it a genus he named Megalosaurus. A few years later, in 1827, Gideon Mantell published a description of new genus in his survey of geology in southeast England. He also coined the binomial name Megalosaurus bucklandi


Owen and Hawkins' Reconstruction[]

When in 1852, Benjerman Waterhouse Hawkins was given the task to construct a model of Megalosaurus for the Crystal Palace dinosaur exhibition. Hawkins' model was of a large, quadrupedal creature reminiscent of a komodo dragon. A large, zebu-like hump was erected on its back, based of material now assigned to the genus Becklespinax. The result was a large and fearsome looking reptile, with a dragon-like head and an iguana-like body. This looked impressive and convincing at the time,

Modern Reconstruction[]

The modern reconstruction of Megalosaurus greatly contrasts Hawkins' model. Contrary to what Hawkins' model suggests, Megalosaurus was in fact, a bipedal carnivore with its hind limbs positioned directly beneath the body. Megalosaurus would have held it's tail erect in order to counter-balance the large head. This head was perched on an S-shaped neck, and held slightly above the shoulders, which lacked a hump. It's forelimbs were relatively small compared to the rest of its body, although, not quite a small as those of the later tyrannosaurs.