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UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


Specimen of the week 374: Hypsilophodon foxii cast

By ucwehlc, on 18 January 2019

Stop press! This week we are revisiting an old specimen of the week to bring you breaking dinosaur news.

Don’t worry, we didn’t break it, specimens of the week is…

Image of LDUCZ-X185 cast of skeleton of Hypsilophodon foxii from the Grant Museum of Zoology UCL

LDUCZ-X185 a one armed cast of skeleton of Hypsilophodon foxii

**The Hypsilophodon foxii cast (again)**

If you are a specimen of the week superfan you may remember Mark Carnall’s blog about the Grant Museum’s largest dinosaur. Check it out here to read more about one of the first dinosaurs to be described by scientists, and how our Hypsilophodon cast towers over the museum, a majestic 50 cm tall, but on a very high shelf.

Previously on the blog…

…Mark realised that our cast was not taken from either of the specimens on display at the Natural History Museum (NHM), and appealed for witnesses to identify the original fossil that our cast is based on. A mere 4 years later more Hypsilophodon information has come to light.

Hyps don’t lie

As you can see from these images, our Hypsilophodon may not match the display specimens at the NHM, but it is a dead ringer for the cast below.

L E Parsons mounting a Hypsilophodon foxii cast. Material from the Natural History Museum archives is used here by permission of the Trustees of the Natural History Museum


Mark Graham, Senior Fossil Preparator at the NHM very kindly shared this picture with us, which shows one of his predecessors Louis Parsons mounting a Hypsilophodon skeleton in 1934. The shape of the skull and pelvis, the style of the metal mount and the ‘tripod’ pose of the skeleton are all perfect matches for our specimen.

Around the time this photograph was taken the NHM made a cast from a Hypsilophodon that was on loan from the USA. This was probably the original that our Hypsilophodon cast is based on. There is another cast of the same skull in the stores of the NHM, accompanied by the following note from R J Parsons (Louis’ son and another fossil preparator) to Alan Charig, one of the NHM’s dinosaur researchers –

Dr. Charig,

I am clearing out of my room to make way for the Geologists [?], and came across this which I think – though I can’t spell it  – is Hyphsolophendon foxi. L. E. Parsons mounted the original specimens many years ago, retaining this rather rough plaster cast.

If you could throw it away, or find it of use, I would be grateful

R. J. Parsons

17/4/72 Anthropology

I’m glad Dr Charig didn’t throw the cast away because as all Grant Museum blog readers know casts and models deserve our love too. In keeping it he preserved another piece of evidence in our quest for the original Hypsilophodon skull. Will we track down the original specimen? Will we find out how our cast got to the Grant Museum? Will we ever find its other arm? Did it ever have one? Tune in again in another 4 years or so for the next instalment of the Grant Museum’s very own dinosaur saga. It might not be the most exciting prehistoric epic of all time, but at least no-one will outrun a pyroclastic flow

Hannah Cornish is the Curatorial and Collections Assistant at the Grant Museum of Zoology

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