America’s “first dinosaur” on display in Philadelphia until May 3

Hadrosaurus foulkii doesn’t have the name recognition of a Tyrannosaurus rex, but this dinosaur made a profound impact on our view of dinosaurs today. Hadrosaurus is a hometown hero with literally deep roots in the Philadelphia area. Discovered in nearby Haddonfield New Jersey and first displayed at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, Hadrosaurus foulkii led the migration of dinosaurs out of the ground, on display in museums, and into our imaginations.

Prior to the Civil War, little was known about the dinosaurs. In the summer of 1858, Philadelphia lawyer William Parker Foulke vacationed in Haddonfield New Jersey. While searching for fossils, Foulke discovered a collection of gigantic bones.

Foulke brought these bones to the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, where they were examined by museum curator Joseph Leidy. As a professor of anatomy, Leidy recognized that the bones came from an unknown creature. At this time, the only evidence of dinosaurs came from a mismatched collection of bones and teeth.

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