3a. The Maidstone Iguanodon, 1840


In 1834, in a stone-quarry in Maidstone, a blast revealed a mass of rock containing the fossil bones of a gigantic animal. Gideon Mantell came into possession of the fragments, which he united into a single slab. One tooth was present, which identified the animal as an Iguanodon, and in addition there were two thigh bones, each nearly three feet long, and assorted other leg bones, bones of the fore- and hind-feet, and several vertebrae, ribs, and collar bones.

The slab was placed on display in Mantell's personal museum, where it became known as the "Mantle-piece" (see illustration at right). John Martin used it as the basis for his restoration (see item 3), and Gideon Mantell made his own private reconstruction, which was never published, but which we reproduce here (see below).

The "Mantle-piece" is still on display, only now it is in the British Museum in London.



Mantell, Gideon. The Wonders of Geology. 4th ed. London, 1840. This work is part of our History of Science Collection, but it was NOT included in the original exhibition.

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