27b. Cope's Diclonius, 1883


In 1882, J. L. Wortman found the skeleton of an ornithopod dinosaur in South Dakota.  It’s most striking feature was a duck-billed skull.  Edward Cope described it in 1883.  He recognized that the teeth were similar to that of Hadrosaurus mirabilis, described by Leidy in 1858 (see item 10).  But Cope rejected Leidy’s generic name and replaced it with one of his own, calling it Diclonius mirabilis.  Although the skeleton was nearly complete, he never reconstructed it, even on paper.  It passed after his death to the American Museum in New York, and it was finally mounted in 1908 as part of a pair of duckbilled dinosaurs, which were now called Trachodon.

In 1897 Charles Knight reconstructed this specimen on paper, for a popular magazine.  It was there called Hadrosaurus mirabilis.

For more on the nomenclature adventures of Diclonius, see What’s in a Name? 


Cope, Edward Drinker. "The structure and appearance of a Laramie Dinosaurian," in: American Naturalist, vol. 17 (1883), pp. 774-777.  This work is part of our History of Science Collection, but it was NOT included in the original exhibition.

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