Dinosaurs in Their Time

DinoGuide: Camptosaurus aphanoecetes

Our Camptosaurus was put on display in 1940, but wasn't recognized as a new species for another 65 years.

The museum's Camptosaurus was displayed as a wall mount, still partly embedded in the sandstone in which it had been found, for more than 60 years. In 2005, the museum decided to completely free the skeleton from the surrounding slab, so it could be displayed for the first time ever as a 3-D mount. But as museum preparator Yvonne Wilson scraped away the rock, she discovered evidence proving that this was actually a new animal. A scientific paper co-written by Wilson and Ken Carpenter of Denver Museum of Nature and Science established Camptosaurus as a new species in 2007. The name aphanoecetes means "hiding in plain sight," which this dinosaur did for decades.

Both young and adult Camptosaurus skeletons have been found, ranging from adults at a full-grown 23 feet to juveniles the size of a German shepherd dog. An early iguanodontian, Camptosaurus is smaller than its later relative Iguanodon. Other differences include its four toes (compared to Iguanodon's three) and the underdeveloped spike on its thumb.

Camptosaurus is known from the western United States and from England, providing evidence for a land connection between these two regions during the latter part of the Jurassic Period. By the Early Cretaceous, the continents had begun to separate, causing animals on each landmass to evolve independently.

CamptosaurusCARNEGIE SPECIMEN NUMBER:
CM 11337

SCIENTIFIC NAME MEANING:
"Flexible reptile, hiding in plain sight"

CLASSIFICATION:
Dinosauria : Ornithischia : Ornithopoda : Camptosauridae

LENGTH:
Up to 27 feet (8.2 meters)

GEOLOGICAL FORMATION & LOCALITY:
Morrison Formation; Dinosaur National Monument, Uintah County, Utah

COLLECTOR:
Earl Douglass and field crew, 1922

TIME PERIOD:
Late Jurassic, 145–150 million years ago

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