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This article is a timeline of palaeontological discoveries.

17th century[]


  • 1676: The first Megalosaurus fossil was discovered in Oxfordshire. It was temporarily named "Scrotum humanum" by Richard Brookes in a caption of a book but was later renamed Megalosaurus.

19th century[]


  • 1809: The first Iguanodon fossil was discovered by William Smith.



  • 1820 - 1821: The first Plesiosaurus fossil was discovered by Mary Anning.
  • 1821: Mary Anning discovered Ichthyosaurus platyodon, which has now been renamed Temnodontosaurus platyodon.
  • 1822: The first Iguanodon tooth was discovered by Gideon Mantell
  • 1824: William Buckland described Megalosaurus, making it the first dinosaur to be scientifically described.
  • 1825: Gideon Mantell describes Iguanodon.
  • 1828: The first Dimorphodon fossil, originally named Pterodactylus marconyx, was discovered by Mary Anning.
  • 1829: The first Squaloraja fossil was discovered by Mary Anning.


  • 1833: The first Hylaeosaurus fossil was discovered by Gideon Mantell.
  • 1836: The Hitchcock's dinosaur footprints were discovered. It was later discovered that the footprints were made by the Triassic dinosaur Anchisaurus.


  • 1842: Sir William Owen proposed the name Dinosauria, meaning "terrible lizards", for the new group of reptiles.


  • 1855: The first North American dinosaur remains were discovered by Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden.
  • 1858: The first reasonably complete dinosaur skeleton, a Hadrosaurus, was discovered in North America by William Foulke.


  • 1861: Workers in Germany discover Archaeopteryx which is known as the first bird.