The first discovered dinosaur remains.
What was the first discovery of dinosaur remains? A good question no doubt. One might immediately assume that the first discovery of dinosaur remains would a complete skeleton, but this was not the case. In 1676 a very large thigh bone was discovered by Reverend Plot, which was later described by R. Brookes in 1763. The is recognized as the first documentation of dinosaur remains. Plot was an antiquarian and historian who discovered the fossil in a quarry in Cornwall. Plot originally believed this to be a petrified bone of an elephant brought to Britain by the Romans. Over the years the specimen has become lost and to this day its location is still not known. However, it is now believed, from the detailed drawings that Plot he has provided, that it was actually a fossil of a dinosaur femur most likely belonging to a Megalosaurus.
The first widely accepted discovery of dinosaur remains was in 1819 when William Buckland, a British Clergyman and fossil hunter, found some fossilized remains of what would later be named a Megalosaurus in 1824. Remember, dinosaurs where an unknown in the scientific world and it wasn’t recognized as a separate taxonomic group for several years.
The first discovery of a nearly complete skeleton was by William Parker Faulke during the summer of 1858. Faulke was vacationing in Haddonfield New Jersey when he heard from the locals that 20 years prior several “gigantic bones” were discovered in a local Marl pit. He spent his summer and fall supervising his hired staff to search the pit and eventually found a nearly complete skeleton of a creature larger than an elephant with characteristics of both birds and reptiles. This dinosaur would be named Hadrosaurus, and the worldwide fascination of dinosaurs had begun.
Many stories of folk lore and legend most likely got their start from accidental discoveries of dinosaur bones which greatly predate the recognized “firsts.” The Chinese had their tales of fire breathing dragons, which emerged in Chinese culture around 5500 BC. This lead archaeologists to believe that the dragon is based off of the fossilized remains of Crocodylu porosus, whose fossilized remains have been found in many rivers throughout the mountainous regions of Asia.
The Greeks and Romans had fair share of mythical creatures. Creatures like cyclops and the Minotaur. Cyclops is well known as a giant, one eyed human like creature, which is now believed to be based off of the skeletal remains of elephants. Elephants have very wide set eyes and a very large nasal cavity which to the untrained eye can look like a single eye socket with the actual eye sockets looking like ear holes. Large “leg bones”, which lead the Greeks and Romans to believe that there was a race of giants on Earth, were probably fossilized remains of dinosaur bones.
As one can see, there have been several “firsts” among the discovery of dinosaur remains. With so many stories of dragons and other mythical creatures from all over the world it may very well impossible to identify the true “first” discovery.