200 Years. 200 Stories. Story 20: “Hadrosaurus foulkii ”

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illustration of Hadrosaurus skeleton
Retouched photograph of B. W. Hawkins beneath his reconstruction of Hadrosaurus foulkii: Ewell Sale Stewart Library & Archives, Coll. 803.

Hadrosaurus foulkii

In 1858, hardly anyone had heard the term “dinosaur.” But Academy member William Parker Foulke had learned about these creatures while attending Academy meetings. That summer Foulke had dinner with a Haddonfield, New Jersey, farmer who reported some bone-like objects that workers had uncovered 20 years earlier. After confirming that these objects were fossilized dinosaur bones, Foulke persuaded Joseph Leidy to come to Haddonfield. The bones Foulke dug up led to the assemblage of the most complete dinosaur skeleton of the day. Leidy named the species Hadrosaurus foulkii (“Foulke's bulky lizard”).

Ten years later, an Englishman named Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins offered to mount the skeleton if we let him make a copy for his Paleozoic museum planned for Central Park. (His museum was never built.) Academy members agreed, and in 1868, we unveiled the world's first mounted dinosaur skeleton. The posture was a bit off and the skull was made up, but the exhibit was an instant sensation, drawing people from all over the world.

You can see a display of Hadrosaurus as well as many other exciting dinosaur skeletons in our Dinosaur Hall!

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