Terrible Lizards Discovered?
One of the earliest documented dinosaur discoveries in Oxfordshire,
England, in 1677. The fossil was that of a megalosaur's distal femur, which
Robert Plot described as "the thigh bone of a man or at least of some
other animal." In 1818 a tooth-bearing jaw was discovered in Oxfordshire,
England (again), and the animal from which it was supposed to have come
was named Megalosaurus in 1824. Iguanodon was described in 1825.
In 1842, after several discoveries of strange, huge fossilized remains,
Sir Richard Owen realized that the creatures were a hitherto unknown class
of animals and coined the word Dinosauria, from the Greek deinos (terrible)
and sauros (lizard). Illustrations from this period make dinosaurs resemble
the oversized lizards that they were thought to be. Actually, despite superficial
resemblances, dinosaurs are not lizards at all. They belong instead to
a group named Archosauria. Also included in Archosauria are birds and crocodiles.