Iguanodon Caudal Fossilised Pyritised Vertebra


A well preserved fossilised vertebra from the Cretaceous period, dating to circa 100 million years ago. Rather than being circular, the body of this vertebra is u-shaped, perhaps distinguishing it as an Iguanodon. Unfortunately, the spinous and transverse processes, the bony projections of vertebrae, are now missing, though the groove of the neural canal, where the spinal cord ran through, as well as the knobs where the processes were attached, are still clearly identifiable on the bone. One side of the vertebra is covered in pyrite. Golden in colour, it is colloquially known as ‘fool’s gold’ due to its lustrous colour. This is an unusual find and rare to see pyritisation on a fossil other than an ammonite.

Date: Circa 100 million years ago
Period: Cretaceous Period
Provenance: From a Surrey gentleman's collection (DG), purchased on the London Art Market from an ADA member, formed 1990's onward. This item was found in Southern England.
Condition: Good condition - there are some chips and cracks on the vertebra's surface.

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SKU: AF-14 Category: Tag:

Vertebrae would have been joined together to form the vertebral column, providing fundamental support and movement to the body. We can gauge what animal the vertebra belonged to from the bone’s structure and shape. Caudal (referring to the tail and hind parts) vertebrae tend to be longer and narrower, like this specimen, whilst, the middle spinal vertebrae tend to be shorter, but with a body of greater radius  – in a shape more similar to a disc.

Iguanodons were land dwelling herbivorous dinosaurs, part of a genus of a larger dinosaurs called Euornithopods or Ornithopods. Ornithopods were very successful herbivores that became extinct in the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event 66 million years ago. This mass extinction is believed to have been caused by an asteroid colliding into earth, and marked the extinction of all non-avian dinosaurs. They are notable in that they had a large thumb spike on their hand, probably to ward off predators.

Pyritisation occurs when an organism, submerged in marine sediments are saturated with iron sulfides. The animal decays and releases sulfide which then reacts with the iron minerals in the surrounding water. Pyrite then replaces the carbonate material.


Weight 207 g
Dimensions L 5.8 x W 3.9 cm
Time Period



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