What ever happened to Antrodemus?

7 07 2007

I got about halfway through Edwin Colbert’s The Age of Reptiles today, but I had to put it down. While the book sports a fair number of illustrations, Colbert was not a gifted writer and (like many other paleontology texts) the work is more of a list of what lived where and when than anything else. I further found it curious that rather than editing the new work as a whole an addendum was tacked on, making some corrections about Plate Tectonics, but otherwise the book is left intact. I might try to make it through the 2nd half tomorrow, but I can’t say that it is particularly useful other than as a snapshot of ideas in vertebrate paleontology in the mid-1960’s.

Anyway, Colbert often refers to Allosaurus with the name Antrodemus, a term that I have to admit I had not seen previously. While I will have to look into the matter further, apparently a fragmentary allosaur was described under the genus name Antrodemus by Joeseph Leidy in 1870, but there simply was not enough material to determine precisely what it was. Given the rules about priority, some scientists seem to have preferred the genus name Antrodemus to Allosaurus, but like similar controversies about fragmentary theropods, Allosaurus was much better established and rightly remained the genus name for the Jurassic theropods.

I actually just happened across this name a second time, looking for information about the Princeton Geology Museum (I was planning on making a visit in the next week or so). I have seen plenty of rumors about the museum being closed in favor of more office space, but I guess I’ll just have to make the trip and find out for myself. The old fossil hall, featuring Antrodemus Allosaurus as it’s centerpiece. If the skeleton is still there you can fully expect photographs after I make my visit.



10 responses

7 07 2007

Funny you mention Antrodemus… The last time I heard that name was in a cartoon, where, in that particular episode, the villain was thawing dinosaurs out of an Alaskan glacier he was plundering.

8 07 2007
Zach Miller

I kind of like the name Antrodemus. It’s certainly more imaginative than “Allosaurus” (strange lizard? I mean, com’on!). But Antrodemus was assigned during the Bone Wars, when every specimen that came out of the ground was given its own genus.

8 07 2007

Zach; I like Antrodemus as well. I don’t know what the rules are, but it would be nice to see a real genus with the name (although I’m sure that might cause some confusion, so I don’t think the ICZN would go for it).

Stanton; Do you remember what cartoon that was? I’m always curious to see where dinosaurs pop up in popular media. Perhaps one of my fondest cartoon memories of dinosaurs was the GI Joe episode where Cobra manages to create dinosaurs and there a big Joe v Cobra v Dinosaur free-for-all.

8 07 2007

I’m sort of ashamed to mention that it was “Defenders of the Earth.”

9 07 2007
Zach Miller

Indeed, one of the rules of the ICZN is that once a name is considered invalid, it may never be used again. Hence, we’ve never heard from Brontosaurus, Anatosaurus, or Trachodon ever again.

10 07 2007

I remember the Antrodemus (the mounted skeleton and the name) at Princeton–we had a tooth from it in our collection at Upsala.

10 07 2007

Thanks for the information Mark; I have as yet been unable to see if anything is left of the Princeton Geology Museum, but then again I’ve had my own work to do at the Rutgers Museum. Hopefully I’ll make it over there in the near future, however.

3 12 2009
Polecat Bench

Antrodemus was the first dino skeleton I got to know up close and personal. The name, the skeleton, the museum, the Hawkins and Knight paintings – all gone.

14 06 2010

they didnt evan tell u wat happened gay ay

27 08 2016
Zoe Nightingale

I always liked the name ‘Antrodemos’. It has poetry and drama. I like ‘Dimetrodon’ for the same reason. I will never forget the thrill of watching ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’ as a child and the dramatic exchange by the two scientists: “It’s a Dimetrodon!”
“If I’d have had my gun it would have been fresh meat for dinner!”
“That’s what he’s saying, he’s a flesh eater.”
Somehow, the more likely designation, (given the size of the specimen) “Tappenosaurus” does not have the same ring to it.
So, try for yourself, saying; “We’re being stalked by an Antrodemus,” as opposed to “… an Allosaurus.”
Go on, we all love a good monster movie, however inaccurate. 😉

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