Old Spiky

Bone fragments found in 1985 by Morris Zdzalek and Sylvia Standing in a Sussex brickpit were first thought to be from an Iguanodon, but Dr William T. Blows examined them and in 1996 named them as a new species of Polacanthus, a family of armoured dinosaurs. (However, in 2011, researchers at London’s Natural History Museum, using a cladistic analysis – grouping according to shared characteristics – questioned this. The matter is not yet settled:  see Postscript.)

In 1985, they found
In Rudgwick Brickworks’ quarry
A piece of bone. Iguanodon?
Bill Blows said, “No, I’m sorry,

“It’s Polacanthus. It was hiding
Under false pretences!
It needs a name, though . . . how about
Polacanthus rudgwickensis?

“It’s longer than old foxii,
Found on the Isle of Wight.
(I dug one out in ’79,
That’s how I know I’m right.)

“Your rudgwickensis fossil is
Cretaceous in its Age,
Or, if you want to be precise,
Barremian* in Stage.

Polacanthuses were spiky beasts,
With a hefty sacral shield;
But a fully intact skeleton
Has yet to be revealed.”

Rudgwick Brickworks are no more;
So fossils can’t be found there.
But I wonder if Old Spiky’s mates
Lie dormant underground there . . .

Analysis by cladogram
Suggests this name could fall:
Perhaps Old Spiky might not be
Polacanthus, after all . . .

* Between 129.4 and 125 million years ago
(Update! See Horshamosaurus)

[Image: dinosaurtime.co.uk]
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