Dinosaur remains were first discovered by the Chinese thousands of years ago. At the time these early fossils were thought to be dragon bones. Unfortunately most of these finds have vanished, as the ancient Chinese believed them to hold great powers and ground them up for medicinal reasons.
Ancient Romans and Greeks must have discovered dinosaur fossils and used them as the basis for many of their legendary monsters, and even Gods. In early England they would have started great tales of dragons.
Many fossils would have been destroyed by earlier people who would have not understood, or recognized, their importance. Surely thousands of fossilized bones, teeth, and even foot prints, have been lost forever.
The first well documented find of a Dinosaur bone, in the 1670’s, was not recognized as such. Sadly, because the Church could not believe the earth was more than a few thousand years old, this first dinosaur bone was accredited to having belonged to a giant human, one killed during the biblical flood. Later (after other discoveries listed below), through artists rendering, it has been determined that this bone was a thigh bone from a dinosaur. It is now categorized as having belonged to the meat eater, Megalosaurus, although the original bone has disappeared.
It was almost 150 years later that Dinosaurs were described somewhat more accurately, knowledge was sought after, and information was cared for.
In 1822 an early fossil hunter, or his wife, found some teeth jutting up along a roadway in Sussex, which is in South East England. She was Mary Ann Mantel, he was Dr. Gideon Mantel, he first gave her credit for the find, then took it himself. Over time more bones were found, and since Dinosaurs had not been properly described at the time, several errors were made in the reconstruction. With only living reptiles as reference, it was given a broad head and a bone was stuck on its nose to be a little horn. It was imagined to be a quadruped, walking clumsily on four legs. He called the creature “Iguanodon”
Through later discovery we have learned that Iguanodon was a slender animal, who walked on two legs, not four. The nose horn was actually a thumb.
It was in 1824 when William Buckland described Megalosaurus in a scientific journal, and later, in 1842, when Sir Ricard Owen coined the term Dinosaur, which meant “terrible lizard”, that these creatures finally seemed to come to life.
The worlds first nearly complete dinosaur fossilized skeleton was not found until 1858, and was found in New Jersey, in the United States. This discovery was very important in bringing the dinosaur hunt to North America. The creature was a Hadrosaurus, which are commonly referred to as “duck-billed dinosaurs”.
Every year new and more fantastic discoveries are being made, but in the grand scheme of things our knowledge of these ancient beings is still fairly new.