Pelorosaurus

Name: Pelorosaurus ‭(‬Monstrous lizard‭)‬.
Phonetic: Pel-o-ro-sore-us.
Named By: Gideon Mantell‭ ‬-‭ ‬1850.
Synonyms: Cetiosaurus conybeari.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Dinosauria,‭ ‬Saurischia,‭ ‬Sauropoda,‭ Brachiosauridae.
Species: P.‭ ‬conybeari‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Herbivore.
Size: Estimated about‭ ‬16‭ ‬meters long.
Known locations: England‭ ‬-‭ ‬Lower Greensand Group,‭ ‬Wealden Group,‭ ‬and France.
Time period: Mid Tithonian to end of the early Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: Various partial post cranial remains.

       The first sauropod dinosaur to ever be named was Cetiosaurus,‭ ‬which was named in‭ ‬1841‭ ‬by Richard Owen.‭ ‬Owen however did not realise that he was dealing with a dinosaur,‭ ‬he actually thought that he was dealing with a giant marine crocodile.‭ ‬The first sauropod to actually be identified as a dinosaur was actually Pelorosaurus,‭ ‬named in‭ ‬1850‭ ‬by Gideon Mantell,‭ ‬the man who named Iguanodon,‭ ‬the first plant eating dinosaur to be named,‭ ‬and second dinosaur overall‭ (‬it was narrowly beaten by Megalosaurus‭)‬.
       Understanding the taxonomic history of Pelorosaurus from this point can give you a headache,‭ ‬but in simple facts its goes like this.‭ ‬After Cetiosaurus was first named Owen named many species because of differences in attributed remains,‭ ‬but it was later realised that some of these fossils were from different animals,‭ ‬and not attributable to Cetiosaurus.‭ ‬One species,‭ ‬Cetiosaurus brevis was realised to have a mix of sauropod and iguanodont bones by Alexander Melville,‭ ‬who subsequently took the sauropod material to create a new species of Cetiosaurus,‭ ‬C.‭ ‬conybeari,‭ ‬in‭ ‬1849.‭ ‬The‭ ‘‬conybeari‭’ ‬part was in honour of William Conybeare,‭ ‬a geologist who published the first ever description of a plesiosaur,‭ ‬creating the genus Plesiosaurus in‭ ‬1821.
       Then in‭ ‬1950‭ ‬Gideon Mantell took the sauropod fossils of C.‭ ‬conybeari and realising them to be different from the others of the genus used them to establish a new genus.‭ ‬Adding a humerus that was confirmed to come from the original fossil site,‭ ‬Mantell knew that he was dealing with a big animal,‭ ‬and at first considered Colossosaurus,‭ ‬initially thinking that the Ancient Greek‭ ‘‬kolossos‭’ ‬meant giant,‭ ‬though when he checked he realised that it actually meant‭ ‘‬statue‭’ (‬to be fair to Mantell,‭ ‬the most famous colossuses are generally very large‭)‬.‭ ‬Mantell instead went with Pelorosaurus which means‭ ‘‬monstrous lizard‭’ ‬while the species name was kept as conybeari in keeping with naming guidelines concerning the naming of animals.
       This would have been a simple case of naming a new genus from an established species,‭ ‬something that is standard fare in naming animals.‭ ‬However Richard Owen perceived the species and genus re-namings by Melville and Mantell as attacks upon his credibility as a naturalist.‭ ‬Owen after all held important positions in the fields of British natural history,‭ ‬and would have course wanted to protect his authority to hold those positions.‭ ‬Owen was also quick to try and alter the works of others,‭ ‬including renaming already established genera‭ (‬Basilosaurus and Ornithocheirus to name but two‭)‬.‭ ‬Some may note that‭ ‬Owen only sought to be scientifically clear,‭ ‬but less kind critics might call them deliberate attempts to stamp his name upon important discoveries.
       Richard Owen‭’‬s counter to the creation of Pelorosaurus was to immediately discredit the work of Melville and Mantell.‭ ‬He accused Mantell of not understanding the meaning of the name‭ ‘‬brevis‭’‬,‭ ‬as well‭ ‬as claiming that his original‭ ‬1842‭ ‬description of the name was intended as a basic description.‭ ‬Owen conceded that C.‭ ‬brevis was likely a nomen nudum,‭ ‬but saw to fix this by assigning further sauropod fossils.‭ ‬When dealing with the creation of the genus Pelorosaurus,‭ ‬Owen removed all fossil material with the exception of the humerus that‭ ‬was added by Mantell.‭ ‬Then later in‭ ‬1859,‭ ‬Owen once again attributed iguanodontid vertebrae to Cetiosaurus brevis.‭ ‬Stating that any connection of Pelorosaurus to Cetiosaurus was a mistake,‭ ‬and satisfied that his Cetioasurus brevis had been preserved,‭ ‬this was last that anything was said about it for just over a hundred years.
       While Owen was a leading figure in the early years of dinosaur palaeontology,‭ ‬much of his work has not stood the test of time.‭ ‬A‭ ‬1970‭ ‬study by John Ostrom and Rodney Steel applied modern reasoning to Owen’s attempts at preserving Cetiosaurus brevis.‭ ‬Their conclusions were that Owen had simply tried to replace the holotype of Cetiosaurus brevis,‭ ‬something that should not have been allowed,‭ ‬and certainly could not be accepted today.‭ ‬Criticism was also made of Melville’s decision to remove the sauropod fossils and not the iguanodont fossils,‭ ‬which really should have been removed instead.
       The result is that even though Pelorosaurus is only represented by a few fossils,‭ ‬it has actually been seen as valid since the late Twentieth century,‭ ‬with Cetiosaurus conybeari named as a synonym to the genus.‭ ‬A second species of Pelorsaurus,‭ ‬P.‭ ‬becklesi which was named from partial remains and skin impressions is no longer thought to represent Pelorosaurus,‭ ‬but rather a different titanosaur genus.‭ ‬Various fossils from England and now also‭ ‬France have been assigned to Pelorosaurus,‭ ‬though often as indeterminate beyond a genus level.
       Pelorosaurus is usually considered to be ranged from the very end of the Jurassic to possibly as the end of the early Cretaceous,‭ ‬though most remains seem to be earlier in the early Cretaceous.‭ ‬The isolated nature of many Pelorosaurus fossils has led to confusion about this.‭ ‬Overall Pelorosaurus is perceived to have been a brachiosaurid sauropod,‭ ‬approximately some sixteen meters in length.‭ ‬Pelorosaurus may have‭ ‬coexisted with other sauropods such as Xenoposeidon.

Further reading
-‭ ‬Report on British fossil reptiles,‭ ‬Part II.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Reports of the British Association for the Advancement of Science,‭ ‬11:‭ ‬60-204.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Richard Owen‭ ‬-‭ ‬1842.
-‭ ‬Notes on the vertebral column of Iguanodon.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London,‭ ‬139:‭ ‬285-300.‭ ‬-‭ ‬A.‭ ‬G.‭ ‬Melville‭ ‬-‭ ‬1849.
-‭ ‬On the Pelorosaurus:‭ ‬an undescribed gigantic terrestrial reptile,‭ ‬whose remains are associated with those of the Iguanodon and other saurians in the strata of Tilgate Forest,‭ ‬in Sussex.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London,‭ ‬140:‭ ‬379-390.‭ ‬-‭ ‬G.‭ ‬A.‭ ‬Mantelli‭ ‬-‭ ‬1850.
-‭ ‬Monograph on the fossil Reptilia of the Wealden and Purbeck formations.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Palaeontological Society,‭ ‬London.‭ ‬-‭ ‬R.‭ ‬Owen‭ ‬-‭ ‬1853.
-‭ ‬Monograph on the fossil Reptilia of the Wealden and Purbeck formations.‭ ‬Supplement no.‭ ‬II.‭ ‬Crocodilia‭ (‬Streptospondylus,‭ ‬etc.‭)‬.‭ [‬Wealden.‭] ‬-‭ ‬The Palaeontographical Society,‭ ‬London‭ ‬1857:‭ ‬20-44.‭ ‬-‭ ‬R.‭ ‬Owen‭ ‬-‭ ‬1859.
-‭ ‬Saurischia.‭ ‬Handbuch der Paläoherpetologie/Encyclopedia of Paleoherpetology.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Gustav Fischer Verlag,‭ ‬Stuttgart‭ ‬1-87.‭ ‬-‭ ‬R.‭ ‬Steel‭ ‬-‭ ‬1970.
-‭ ‬An unusual new neosauropod dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous Hastings Beds Group of East Sussex,‭ ‬England.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Palaeontology,‭ ‬50‭(‬6‭)‬:‭ ‬1547-1564.‭ ‬-‭ ‬M.‭ ‬P.‭ ‬Taylor,‭ ‬D.‭ ‬Naish‭ ‬-‭ ‬2007.
-‭ ‬Sauropod dinosaurs.‭ ‬In Batten,‭ ‬D.‭ ‬J.‭ (‬ed.‭) ‬English Wealden Fossils.‭ ‬The Palaeontological Association‭ (‬London‭)‬,‭ ‬pp.‭ ‬476‭–‬525.‭ ‬-‭ ‬P.‭ ‬Upchurch,‭ ‬P.‭ ‬D.‭ ‬Mannion‭ & ‬P.‭ ‬M.‭ ‬Barrett‭ ‬-‭ ‬2011.



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