One of the things I love most about science is the constant learning and refinement of theories. In the historical sciences, like paleontology, this learning and refinement comes from two different sources: new discoveries and re-interpretations of old discoveries. To illustrate, I’d like to tell you the story of Iguanodon, one of the first dinosaur fossils to be scientifically described.
Iguanodon was found in 1822 by Mary Ann Mantell. Her physician husband, Dr. Gideon Mantell, gave the first written description of the creature in 1825. Iguanodon’s thumb spike was thought to be a horn on the forehead, making him more of a dino rhino. This mistake was corrected in 1878 when paleontologist Louis Dollo unearthed thirty-eight nearly complete Iguanodon skeletons. From this find, Dollo realized the spike belong on the thumb. He also discovered that Iguanodon’s back legs were much longer than the front and its tail was thick and heavy. These discoveries led to the modern interpretation of Iguanodon as able to stand on just its back legs or on all four if necessary.
It amazes me how advances in science bring us that much closer to understanding how God made these incredible creatures.
Reference: Ross, Marcus. Building a Better Dinosaur. Answers Magazine, Oct-Dec 2013, 8(4), p. 56-61.