Hadrosaurus (Marx)

3.9 (8 votes)

Although we are all familiar with the dinosaur family hadrosauridae it seems that the dinosaur that gave the family its name has been largely forgotten, despite being a historically important dinosaur. Hadrosaurus foulkii was first described by Joseph Leidy in 1858, from remains found in New Jersey’s Woodbury Formation. Hadrosaurus is the first dinosaur ever discovered in the United States. In addition, it is also the first dinosaur skeleton ever mounted and displayed anywhere in the world. It was put on display in 1868 at the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences and it’s still on display there to this day. All of this should make Hadrosaurus as famous as other historically significant dinosaurs like Iguanodon and Megalosaurus, but alas, Hadrosaurus only seems to be remembered by those of us that live near its discovery site and take local pride in it.

Hadrosaurus remains at the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, from my trip there in 2008.

As an example of just how neglected this animal is there is not a single review for it on the Dinosaur Toy Blog. In fact, a proper toy or model of Hadrosaurus doesn’t exist, at all. Even this toy isn’t really a Hadrosaurus, but we’ll get to that. Part of the reason for the neglect might be because we don’t have a skull for Hadrosaurus, in fact some paleontologists believe the genus to be nomen dubium. If the genus is valid than how Hadrosaurus fits in with other members of the hadrosauridae family is an issue of debate as well. It is only known from 38 bones from a single specimen. Such an enigmatic animal is hard to reconstruct, although other dinosaurs have been reconstructed with less material to go on.

The only Hadrosaurus toy that I’m aware of is also one of the first dinosaur toys ever produced, by the first company to ever produce dinosaur toys, Marx. The Marx Hadrosaurus was first released in 1955 and is part of the Medium Mold Group, PL-750. It was released alongside the Allosaurus, Stegosaurus, Ankylosaurus, Trachodon, and Pteranodon.

The Marx Hadrosaurus is based directly on Charles R. Knight’s illustration from 1897. In appearance it looks very much like a standard reconstruction of Trachodon from that time period and truthfully, that’s what it really is. Knight’s Hadrosaurus is Hadrosaurus mirabilis, not H. foulkii. H. mirabilis was a name once given to Diclonius, aka Trachodon. So this ends up being just another Edmontosaurus toy, ultimately. But still, Marx only labeled it with the genus name, so a Hadrosaurus it is.

There are some differences between the toy and Knight’s drawing, mainly in the posture. The angle of the head is different, as well as the position of the right arm, but aside from that they’re nearly identical and share the same bizarre squatting posture.

Indeed, the Marx Hadrosaurus is a strange figure, and one of my favorite Marx toys because of that. It is presented in a sitting posture with its long, sinuous tail dragging out behind it. The left forearm is tucked in against the chest while the right arm waves happily in the air. I display my Hadrosaurus over the Marx Ankylosaurus where it looks like the Hadrosaurus is giving it a gentle pat on the back. The head of the toy is tilted and twisted slightly skyward, with the drawn-out mouth extending below the eyes and smirking at the ends. It looks happy, and you can’t help but feel happy looking at it.

In addition to the odd posture the belly is also strangely narrow and keeled. The tail has grooves running down its length that make it look like a rat’s tail, but this feature is also shared with Knight’s drawing. The detail work on most of the body is limited to some stippling across the hide.

The head is remarkably detailed, matching closely with Knight’s work. The smooth keratin bill works up the center of the snout, gradually coming to a point. On either side of the bill are the nostrils which have a fleshy, wrinkled texture, as though they represent relaxed vocal sacs. Four fingers are present on each hand while the feet have three toes. The name Hadrosaurus is printed on the left side of the tail while a length of 40’ is printed on the right. That length works for Trachodon (Edmontosaurus) but Hadrosaurus is only estimated to have reached 23-26′.

There’s a lot to like about this little figure. It’s the only toy for which the name Hadrosaurus is attributed and it’s based directly on an early drawing by the legendary Charles R. Knight. It’s quirky, with a lot of personality, considerably more than the similar Marx Trachodon. Anyone with an interest in the history of paleontology should find it worth seeking out. Hopefully someday some toy company will see the value in Hadrosaurus and make one of their own. Until then this 66 year old toy, based on a 124 year old drawing of a different animal, will have to suffice.

Marx Iguanodon, Trachodon, Hadrosaurus, and Parasaurolophus.

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