31. Ceratosaurus Foraging, 1901 [1920]

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Even fifty years after the discovery of Buckland's Megalosaurus jaw, carnivorous dinosaurs remained a poorly understood group. Cope's Laelaps was known only from assorted fragments, and although a new carnivore, Allosaurus, was discovered in 1877, it too was represented only by assorted bits of teeth and bone. Finally, in 1884, the first reasonably complete skeleton of a theropod was found; it was named Ceratosaurus by Marsh, and Marsh published a restoration of the skeleton in 1892. As Marsh commented at the time, not only was the skeleton complete, but all the elements, including the skull, were found in position. Marsh restored it as a biped, with a stance similar to that of Dollo's Iguanodon.

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In 1901, J. M. Gleeson did a life restoration of Ceratosaurus, working under the direction of none other than Charles Knight (see above left). The drawing has seldom been reproduced in modern secondary literature, but it has a charm and a liveliness that was quite unusual for the period, even by Knight standards. The allure of the Gleeson/Knight drawing can be appreciated by comparing it with another contemporary restoration (right), done by Frank Bond in 1899.

These restorations, and several others, were collected together by Charles Gilmore in 1920 and published in his great monograph on carnivorous dinosaurs. We place the work here in the exhibition to put these two restorations in their proper historical context. For an evaluation of Gilmore's monograph in its proper historical context, and for an illustration of Gilmore's Ceratosaurus mount, with the Gleeson drawing hung nearby, click here.

Source

Gilmore, Charles W. Osteology of the carnivorous Dinosauria in the United States National Museum, with special reference to the genera Antrodemus (Allosaurus) and Ceratosaurus. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1920. Series: Smithsonian Institution. United States National Museum. Bulletin 110. This work was on display in the original exhibition as item 31.

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