(cartilage and bone lizard).
Named By: Richard Owen - 1876.
Classification: Chordata, Reptilia, Dinosauria, Saurischia, Sauropoda.
Species: C. gigas (type).
Known locations: England - Wessex Formation.
Time period: Barremian of the Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: Cervical (neck) vertebra.
Ornithopsis was named by Harry Govier Seeley in
1870, Seeley noted
the pneumaticised vertebrae and considered Ornithopsis
to represent a
link between pterosaurs
and birds. Richard Owen however said that he
was wrong, the vertebra actually represented a kind of large marine
reptile, though one that probably had a well-developed respiratory
system. As a result Owen took away the vertebrae and created a new
genus called Chondrosteosaurus, upon the basis
that Owen believed
that the passages on the vertebrae would have been filled with
Both Seeley and Owen however were very wrong in their interpretations as the vertebrae were actually those of a sauropod dinosaur. Also a second species of Chondrosteosaurus, C. magnus that was also named by Owen is no longer considered to be valid.
- On Ornithopsis, a gigantic animal of the pterodactyle kind from the Wealden. - Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Series 4, 5: 279-283. - Harry Govier Seeley - 1870.
- Monograph on the fossil Reptilia of the Wealden and Purbeck Formations. Supplement 7. Crocodilia (Poikilopleuron) and Dinosauria? (Chondrosteosaurus). - Palaeontographical Society Monographs, 30: 1-7. - Richard Owen - 1876.