Monograph on the Fossil Reptilia of the Wealden and Purbeck Formations
30 Apr 2015
Sir Richard Owen (1804-92) coined the term 'Dinosauria' in 1842 for the remains of three animals named from the Middle Jurassic and Early Cretaceous rocks of southern England: Megalosaurus, Iguanodon and Hylaeosaurus. In his monograph on the Wealden and Purbeck Reptilia (published in five parts with nine supplements in 1853-79) he confirms the distinctiveness of this newly recognised group, building on earlier work by Gideon Mantell and others. Owen also reviewed the other reptiles then known from these Early Cretaceous faunas, including turtles, crocodiles and lizards. This work initiated major interest in the earliest Cretaceous Purbeck Limestone Group fauna, which remains one of the most diverse small reptile faunas known from the Mesozoic, as well as consolidating the international importance of the Wealden Group in dinosaur studies. The monograph remains a benchmark for many of the species described, particularly the crocodiles and turtles.