Iguanodon Facts for Kids – 5 Incredible Facts about Iguanodon

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

Iguanodon loved to eat conifers! What do you love to eat? Let’s discover five incredible iguanodon facts for kids.

Iguanodon Facts for Kids Fact Number 1: The Iguanodon Was a Herbivore

The Iguanodon was an herbivore. This means that  it only ate plants and not meat. The Iguanodon was tall enough to eat leaves off of the tops of tall trees. Their diet included plants such as conifers, cycads and ginkgos. The Iguanodon had a toothless beak, which was used to clip plants, which would be pushed back into its mouth. They had roughly 50 teeth in their jaw for chewing and crunching harder plants.

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Iguanodon’s mouth

Iguanodon Facts for Kids Fact Number 2: The Iguanodon Was First Discovered in 1822

In 1822, English geologist Gideon Mantell first discovered the Iguanodon dinosaur. In Southern England he found the first fossil evidence of Iguanodon when he discovered its fossil teeth. He reconstructed the structure of the Iguanodon skeleton and was one of the first to begin scientific research of dinosaurs. The Iguanodon was one of the first three dinosaurs to be discovered. When Mantell discovered the Iguanodon, the word “dinosaur” hadn’t even been invented. It was nearly 20 years later, in 1841 that Richard Owen invented the name “dinosaur.”

Iguanodon Facts for Kids Fact Number 3: The Name Iguanodon Means “Iguana Tooth”

Iguanodon lived in the early Cretaceous Period, which was roughly about 125 million years ago. Since the extinction of the dinosaurs, people have been finding dinosaur fossils for thousands of years. However, they didn’t know what they were up until the 1800’s. When Mantell first discovered the Iguanodon fossil tooth, he first thought it was the tooth of an extinct giant sized iguana. For this reason, he named the fossil “Iguanodon”, which translates to “iguana tooth.” The name iguanodon is pronounced as “ig-wah-na-don”. After the Megalosaurus dinosaur, the Iguanodon was the second dinosaur that received an official name.

Iguanodon Facts for Kids
Iguanodon Facts for Kids: Iguanodon fossil tooth

Iguanodon Facts for Kids Fact Number 4: Iguanodons Had a Really Long Spike on Its Thumb

When Mantell first discovered the Iguanodon, he thought that the Iguanodon’s thumb spike was actually a horn on their nose. Their thumbs had these spikes on top to help them stab food. It is thought that these spikes were also used to defend  themselves from predators. The Iguanodon dinosaur belongs to the dinosaur group known as Ornithopoda. Although Ornithopod dinosaurs are usually bird-like dinosaurs that walk on two feet, the Iguanodon skeleton structure is similar to these dinosaurs. Iguanodons walked around on all fours instead, but they could also stand on their hind legs to reach food. Iguanodon had long strong arms that they used to walk on.

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Iguanodon’s thumb with spike

Iguanodon Facts for Kids Fact Number 5: Most Iguanodons Lived in Europe

The first Iguanodon fossil was found in Europe and the majority of Iguanodon fossils since then have also been found in Europe. Some Iguanodon fossils have also been found in North America and Africa. Iguanodons were big and bulky and could grow up to about 12 metres  long. They were also quite heavy so it is unlikely that Iguanodons were fast. It is estimated that they could run at about 14 miles per hour.

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Dinosaur fossils displayed in museum

We hope you enjoyed learning more things about Iguanodon as much as we loved teaching you about them. Now that you know how majestic this dinosaur is, you can move on to learn about other dinosaurs like: Brontosaurus, Ankylosaurus, Flying Dinosaurs and Herbivorous Dinosaurs.

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