A dinosaur bone which has been in Doncaster for more than half a century has been returned to its rightful home.
Doncaster Council has returned part of a toe from a sauropod to a museum in Scarbor ough, the town where it was discovered in 1837.
It had been loaned to Doncaster Museum from Woodend Museum in 1964 - and has been in South Yorkshire ever since.
At that time museums often loaned items to each other without paperwork or formal agreements, so it remained in storage with the rest of Doncaster’s fossil collection until now.
The toe is believed to be one of two metatarsals collected during the 1830s with other bone fragments from Jurassic rocks at Scarborough, and donated to Scarborough’s Rotunda Museum.
The White Nab bones were first described by naturalist William Crawford Williamson. Although not described as dinosaur at the time, they are the fifth documented occurrence of dinosaur remains in England.
Dr Philip Mannion, palaeontologist at Imperial College London, said: “The rediscovery of this sauropod metatarsal bone is very significant, as dinosaur remains from the Yorkshire coast are very rare.”
Coun Bob Johnson, cabinet member for culture, said: “It is thanks to a good knowledge of British dinosaurs by Dean Lomax, assistant curator of palaeontology at Doncaster Museum, that this bone has been identified as a probable missing historical specimen.
“Further research and study of the two bones by Dean may be able to prove it is definitely one of the missing bones.”
Dean has a new book out later this year, Dinosaurs of the British Isles, and this very same specimen will feature, among others from museum collections in the UK.
The research and return of the bone to Scarborough is part of an extensive collections management and research project being carried out on Doncaster Museum’s fossil collection, funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation Museum and Heritage fund.
The project’s title CIRCA is an acronym describing its objectives to Catalogue, Interpret, Research, Conserve and make the collection Accessible to the public.
Sauropods had very long necks, long tails and small heads in comparison to the rest of their body as well as thick, pillar-like legs. They were notable for the enormous sizes attained by some species, and the group includes the largest animals ever to have lived on land. Well-known species include brachiosaurus, diplodocus, and brontosaurus. Sauropods appeared in the late Triassic period and by the late Jurassic period 150 million years ago, were widespread. Fossilised remains have been found on every continent.
Sauropoda was coined by OC Marsh in 1878, and is derived from Greek, meaning lizard foot.