History | 8 March 2017Dinosaur Skeletons Share article facebook twitter google pinterest When it comes to bones, dinosaurs are history’s champs. Andrew Kirk takes a look at some of the skeletons these creatures left behind—and what they’ve taught us—in his book, Skeletons: The Extraordinary Form & Function of Bones. The legacy of 19th-century engravers is particularly rich when it comes to dinosaurs. Fossils were still a new and intriguing area of study at the time when most of the dinosaur reconstructions were made, and many represented the engravers’ work at its virtuoso best, although taxonomic confusions could sometimes take decades to be sorted out. Ceratosaurus nasicornis Length 6-8m/19-26ft Weight 550 kg/1250 lb Background A dinosaur from the late Jurassic period, whose name means “horned lizard”, for the large blade-like horn carried on its snout, which made it easily identified as a fossil. Powerfully built, with a thick, crocodile-like tail, and very short but heavy and powerful forelimbs. Named by the paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh. Triceratops Length 9m/29ft Weight 5,500 kg/12,500 lb Background With a name taken from the Greek for “3-horned face”, Triceratops is one of the most recognizable dinosaurs, with a long horn just above its eyes and a heavy, bony frill around its neck. From the late Cretaceous period, and contemporary with Tyrannosaurus, this is one of the heaviest dinosaurs for its size. Anchisaurus Length 2 meters/6½ ft Weight 27 kilos/60 lb Background A small dinosaur from the early Jurassic period, named in 1885 by the paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh, from whose drawings this engraving was made. Fossils largely found in China, North America, and South Africa. Unlike the depiction, anchisaurus probably spent most of its time on four legs rather than two. Stegosaurus Length 9m/30ft Weight 5000 kg/11,000 lb Background Another of Marsh’s discoveries, Stegosaurus was first described in 1881, and this engraving was made in 1896. Dating from the late Jurassic, the 12 bony dorsal plates identify it instantly. It was herbivorous and probably slow moving—its brain size was around 90g or 3oz—very tiny indeed. Camptosaurus Length 8m/26ft Weight 800 kg/1650 lb Background The first fossil Camptosaur was found in Wyoming in 1879, and named in 1885. Dated to the mid- Jurassic period, it has a notably triangual and heavy skull on an elongated body with a broad, heavily boned tail that was used as a balancing aid to reach high foliage. Apatosaurus Length 23m/75ft Weight 4,000 kilos/9000 lb Background This engraving, from 1896, shows an animal then known as the Brontosaurus. Confusions between which fossil head belonged to which body caused sequential confusions around Apatosaurus, which was finally confirmed in 1903 as a single group of vast herbivores. Edmontosaurus Length 12m/39ft Weight 4,200 kilos/9500 lb Background A duck-billed dinosaur from the Cretaceous period, which initially had a confused taxonomy. It could switch easily between running on four legs to standing on two. Found only in North America, the fossil has a bulky skeleton with very heavily built hind legs and a notably large skull with a prominent beak or bill. Buy from an Online Retailer US: Everything you need to know about the framework of the body – our bones! Bone is one of the most extraordinary materials in the natural world; flexible, strong, and available in a number of types and densities. Yet we can only absorb quite how amazing it is when we look at the range of different jobs it can do, from supporting a huge and heavy mammal like an elephant, to enabling a bat to fly. It can even teach us about the past! Scientists have gathered all the information they know about the dinosaurs and their dependents from their fossilized bones, extraordinary reminders of the way our world used to be. Skeletons covers everything you need to know about bones. Beautifully illustrated with the engravings of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, learn all about the skeleton and the variety of actions it preforms to enable an animal to survive. Then, go deeper and see how skeletons have evolved over time. They can even adapt to different climates to help animals survive! You’ll also find complete directory of skeletons with its own box of key facts and statistics. It’s scientific eye candy! Andrew Kirk was educated at Oxford University and worked in publishing for over twent years before becoming a writer. His previous titles have included books on ancient history and a study of Thoreau. This is his sixth book. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.