… and a Happy New Year (lamest type specimen ever?)

December 30, 2007

Things are pretty quiet at SV-POW! Towers: Matt’s on the road and can’t post, I’ve been working way too hard on day-job work and haven’t had much time for anything else, and Darren seems to have gone to ground (probably holed up somewhere with a stack of lissamphibian cladograms). Until the new year, then we give you the following lame picture:

Ornithopsis lectotype BMNH R28632

What we have here is one of the lamer sauropod type specimens: it’s BMNH R28632, the lectotype of the venerable Wealden “brachiosaurid” Ornithopsis hulkei Seeley 1870. I won’t blame anyone who can’t immediately see what it is: it’s a badly eroded dorsal centrum in left lateral view. Perhaps surprisingly, this genus was judged valid in Upchurch et al.’s (2004) survey of sauropods.
There’s a lot that could be said about this specimen, and maybe we’ll revisit it in the New Year, but right now I need to go and watch Sonic Underground Volume 2 with my boys, so for now you’ll have to content yourselves with the picture.

Happy new year!

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12 Responses to “… and a Happy New Year (lamest type specimen ever?)”

  1. Darren Naish Says:

    Hm, looks like an _Iguanodon_ tympanic bone to me (that’s an in-joke).

    Happy new year everyone – welcome to Year of the Frog!

  2. Mike from Ottawa Says:

    How about explaining that in-joke for the rest of us.

    Personally, I think it looks like Chunkosaurus.

  3. Darren Naish Says:

    Hi Mike (from Ottawa)..

    It’s a longish story but here we go. BMNH R28632 (the specimen shown here) is one of two vertebrae originally used in the naming of Ornithopsis hulkei – the other was BMNH 2239 from East Sussex. 2239 was later regarded by Richard Owen as the type specimen of Bothriospondylus elongatus (though not before John Hulke had suggested that it might serve as type specimen of Ornithopsis hulkei – a designation today reserved for BMNH R28632). Anyway, before all of this, 2239 was originally described – by Owen in his 1841 ‘Wealden and Purbeck Reptilia’ – as the quadrate, or tympanic, of Iguanodon. It seems ridiculous today that anyone might mistake a vertebra for a bone at the back of the skull, but, well, there you have it.

    Finally, I agree with Mike (Taylor) about the questionable validity of Ornithopsis hulkei and have noted such in publications (Naish & Martill 2001, 2007).

    Refs – –

    Naish, D. & Martill, D. M. 2001. Saurischian dinosaurs 1: Sauropods. In Martill, D. M. & Naish, D. (eds) Dinosaurs of the Isle of Wight. The Palaeontological Association (London), pp. 185-241.

    – . & Martill, D. M. 2007. Dinosaurs of Great Britain and the role of the Geological Society of London in their discovery: basal Dinosauria and Saurischia. Journal of the Geological Society, London 164, 493-510.

  4. Mike Taylor Says:

    There is a great irony concerning BMNH R2239, but that must wait for another post …

  5. Zach A. Says:

    It does look vaguely (vaguely!) like a quadratojugal…

    By the way, does anyone no where I can get a pdf of Paul’s paper “Big sauropods – really, really big sauropods” and a pdf of his description of the sub-genus Giraffatitan?

  6. Darren Naish Says:

    What – it really is a quadrate?

  7. Mike Taylor Says:

    No, Darren, I am not saying that BMNH R2239 is a quadrate! But I do have an idea about it which I will save for my next proper post.

    (Zach: are you sure you’ve seen R2239 which you say does look like a quadrate? Remember, the bone illustrated in this post is not R2239, which was part of the Ornithopsis syntype, but R28632, which was the other part of the syntype and was subsequently nominated as the lectotype. They are not particularly similar.)

  8. Zach A. Says:

    I was talking about the picture in the post…sorry if I caused confusion.

    Nobody knows where I can get those pdfs?

  9. Darren Naish Says:

    Sorry I never responded to your email Zach (I get too many to keep track of). There is a pdf of Paul’s Hunteria paper, which I’ll send, but I don’t have one of his ‘Really, really big sauropods’ one. I do have a scan of the article’s main comparative illustration however.


  10. [...] is arguable: see Naish & Martill 2007. For previous SV-POW! comments on the specimen go here). It’s often noted that Seeley suggested that these vertebrae belonged to an animal ‘of the [...]


  11. [...] in a taxonomic hell-hole. It was described by Hulke as belonging to Ornithopsis, a genus based on a horribly non-diagnostic type specimen, and it is this name that appears on the exhibit label (along with the incorrect specimen numbers [...]


  12. [...] taxonomic damage by assumptions of synonymy (everything’s Cetiosaurus or Ornithopsis — whatever that is) as they did by raising new taxa. The thing to do is find the hypothesis best supported by [...]


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