The name Iguanodon means “Tooth of Iguana”, the Iguanodon is an iguandonid ornithopod and is believed to have lived in the Cretaceous period about 120 million years ago in Europe. It’s one of the dinosaurs that evolved with a duck’s beak. At first it was thought that there were many species of Iguanodon, dating from different periods and that have been found in different places such as Asia, Europe and North America, but now it is thought that there is only one species of Iguanodon Bernissartensis that definitely comes from Europe. This dinosaur was a plant eater who had the uniqueness of being able to walk on both two and four legs, it is believed that it could weigh up to 3 tons and measure a little more than 13 meters long.
The Iguanodon had a spine with a really strong tail to support its heavy body. It is believed that the Iguanodon lived in herds since when remains of these dinosaurs have been found they have never been found alone and above all they have been found bones of individuals of different ages which indicates a behavior of living and traveling together.
Iguanodon was described many years ago, it was one of the early descriptions. He was discovered by Gideon Mantell in 1822 and described by himself in 1825. This dinosaur is very important because it was the second dinosaur among all to be named, the name it was given because the first impression its teeth gave was that they were very similar to those of an iguana, that’s why they decided to name it Iguanodon. It was a very interesting dinosaur as it was perhaps one of the largest and most robust plant eaters on record. It is also important to mention that it is related to hadrosaurids.
As always, the dinosaur’s head and mouth tell us a lot about its food. The Iguanodon had a very large, narrow head that ended in a beak similar to that of a parakeet and a little flat, on the back had its famous teeth similar to those of an iguana, clear much larger. It was very peculiar that when he closed his mouth the shape of his bones and the ligaments that supported him and allowed him to chew made his head arch and make a perfect occlusion, i.e. closing the top teeth with the bottom teeth in such a powerful way that they could grind anything, this is more or less what happens with today’s mammals, so the Iguanodon would chew more or less the same way as a modern mammal.
Like many other dinosaurs, the Iguanodon’s teeth were arranged in a battery, this means that when one was worn out, another replaced it, because of the massive size of the dinosaurs, especially the iguanodon, they had to consume many plants, which meant that they had to eat much of the day. Besides all this it has been suggested that the Iguanodon had a tongue that helped it to collect and press the leaves, more or less like the tongue of a giraffe. It is believed that the Iguanodonts ate mainly horse mackerels and conifers, because they were so large and could stand on two legs, so that they could reach trees much taller than themselves.
An interesting feature about Iguanodon’s feeding is that it is believed that it probably helped the flowering plants develop because of the constant movement to eat different plants could help its pollination and dispersion.
There is more than one thing that makes Iguanodon special, however a fascinating and particular feature is that they had a great claw in each thumb. This claw was covered with a hard and resistant material. It is commonly believed that this claw was used to defend against the constant predators to which they were exposed, although it was also common among dinosaurs that used powerful claws and beaks to feed themselves, in this case to gather and split fruits and seeds. There is a very interesting possibility as far as the theory of defense is concerned, it has been proposed that the claws were poisonous, this because of a series of glands that it is believed to have had, however this is a weak theory that has not been proven.
A curious fact about its claw is that when they first discovered it, they didn’t think it was a claw but a horn it had in its nose, just like other dinosaurs that look like rhinoceroses, so the first time they presented it it had a horn on its nose, this was changed when Vernissart and Dollo found other complete specimens and realized that they had made a mistake and placed the claw where they had placed it.
Where else can you find him?
The Iguanodon is quite famous, most likely because it was discovered a long time ago and we know a lot about it. When they discovered it it caused a great deal of excitement and they built two statues exactly their size for the Crystal Palace in London, in fact in these images it still had a horn in its nose, this was the first life-size reproduction made of a dinosaur. In fact it has been one of the most reconstructed dinosaurs through time, in fact it has undergone three transformations throughout its life from the horn in the nose and walking on all fours to its current representation more appropriate to what it really was.
You can find it in Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, Red Raptor, Disney’s Dinosaur, In Search of the Lost Valley. In the documentary Walking with Dinosaurs and in addition to all this you can see it in the Animal Kingdom amusement park. One of the most special things is that an asteroid has the name Iguanodon.