37. Summing up Stegosaurus, 1914


The second decade of this century saw the appearance of a new kind of dinosaur literature: the review monograph. One of the first of this genre was Charles Gilmore's survey of the stegosaurs. Gilmore was assistant curator of fossil reptiles at the United States National Museum, and he sought here to evaluate all the known specimens of Stegosaurus.

The featured specimen was a nearly complete skeleton of Stegosaurus stenops that had been found by a party working for Othniel. C. Marsh in 1886, but had only recently been assembled for display in the Museum. The mount shows the specimen as it was found (see illustration above). A unique feature of the mount was the use of mirrors so that the back of the head and the dermal plates underneath the skeleton could be seen.


To the non-specialist, what makes Gilmore's monograph so attractive is the great variety of visual information that Gilmore provides. There are photographs, line drawings, and shaded drawings of the S. stenops specimen in its matrix, as well as enlarged drawings and photographs of individual bones and plates. There is a large, fold-out quarry map. And, in what would become a Gilmore trademark, he offered the reader a complete visual history of previous restorations, including the original skeletal restoration by Marsh, life restorations by Charles Knight, T. Smit, G. E. Roberts, and Frank Bond (see illustration at left), and model sculptures by Knight and R. S. Lull. As the Bond drawing demonstrates, not all restorations came up to the level of Charles Knight.

Gilmore would become master of the review article. This exhibition includes his 1920 monograph on carnivorous dinosaurs, his 1936 review of Apatosaurus, as well as his more narrowly focused 1925 study of the Carnegie juvenile Camarasaurus.


Gilmore, Charles W. Osteology of the armored Dinosauria in the United States National Museum, with special reference to the genus Stegosaurus. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1914. Series: Smithsonian Institution. United States National Museum. Bulletin 89. This work was on display in the original exhibition as item 37.

Site Navigation