… but seven dinosaurs in total.
The extract is taken from the 16 page booklet Gideon Mantell: a remarkable life produced for the Lewes Fossil Festival in 2016. Second edition April 2017. Text written by writer and journalist John May.
The extract references Dennis R Dean, author of two key text on Mantell see below*and explains how Mantell found and identified various different dinosaurs for the first time.
It is not commonly appreciated that he (Mantell) devoted some thirty years to his increasingly accurate reconstructions of Iguanodon, while discovering other dinosaurs as well.
These were: the carnivorous Megalosaurus – discovered independently by Mantell and others – the first dinosaur of any kind to be described; Iguanodon, the first herbivorous dinosaur; Hylaeosaurus, the first armored dinosaur; the huge remains of a Cetiosaurus (‘whale lizard’), identified by Mantell as a land-based reptilian, wrongly named by its earlier discoverer, arch-rival Richard Owen, who’d assumed it was a marine crocodile; Pelorosaurus, a gigantic species of sauropod (‘lizard foot’) dinosaurs; Regnosaurus (meaning “Sussex lizard”), a genus of herbivorous dinosaurs; and Hypsilophodon, a small agile dinosaur, which Mantell thought was a very young iguanodon.
Mantell discovered also several dozen other prehistoric creatures including prehistoric crocodiles and turtles, molluscs, fishes, insects, sponges and plants. With this broader view, he was able to visualise the primeval landscape the dinosaurs inhabited.
Dean also claims that Mantell ‘was the first person to collect dinosaur bones systematically and over a period of time with the specific intention of restoring the animals’ original appearance’. Mantell’s natural gifts as a public speaker and writer, combined with his remarkable and extensive fossil collection, with giant dinosaur bones as the centrepiece, thrilled and enlightened scholars, scientist, writers, artists and the inquisitive general public of his day. Dean writes: ’…far more than anyone else, he impressed the Age of Reptiles upon contemporary minds’.
A hard-working doctor, often on night calls, Mantell survived on little sleep and did most of his scientific work around midnight. As if these demands were not enough, Dean writes that Mantell was also ‘a local and family historian; a productive archaeologist and microscopist; a political activist and social climber; a minor poet and artist; and, in his valuable journal and extensive correspondence, an outspoken critic and chronicler of his times’
Gideon Algernon Mantell: A Bibliography With Supplementary Essays, by Dennis R. Dean and David Norman, published 1 December 1998 (279 pp., Scholars Facsimiles, ISBN-10: 0820115193 & ISBN-13: 9780820115191)
Gideon Mantell and the Discovery of Dinosaurs, by Dennis R. Dean, published 1999 (xix + 290 pp., Cambridge University Press, ISBN-13: 9780521420488)