Gideon Mantell’s life was full of exploration and learning and he wrote and published about it extensively but one mystery remains; who actually found the original iguanodon tooth? The story goes that Mary Ann Mantell accompanied her husband Gideon on a journey one day in 1822 and while he was visiting one of his patients she spotted a strangely coloured item by the road side in a pile of stones left by some road builders. She immediatly spotted the significance and showed it to her husband who went on to publish the find as evidence of a giant land lizard the Iguano-don (tooth of an iguana) in 1825. However the basis of the story is hard to source.We know that later on Gideon and his wife separated; with her leaving him and her children, possibly exasperated by his obsessions with ancient stones and bones. Was she written out of the history books or is there a different explanation? Come to a talk by Anthony Booth on Tuesday 24th February 2015 7.30pm at Council Chamber, Lewes Town Hall entrance £4. Anthony has been delving deep into the printed sources to seek to uncover where the truth lies….
The actual tooth can be found in the Te Papa museum in New Zealand where the Mantells’ first son Walter emigrated to and who received many of the Mantell papers and artefacts after Gideon’s death http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/topic/2166