XXI.-On the Discovery of an almost perfect
Skeleton of the Plesiosaurus.
BY THE REV. W. D. CONYBEARE, F.R.S. M.G.S.
[Read February 20, 1824.]
I AM highly gratified in
being- able to lay before the Society an account of an almost
perfect skeleton of Plesiosaurus *, a new fossil genus, which, from
the consideration of several fragments found only in a disjointed
state, I felt myself authorized to propound in the year 1821, and
which I described in the Geological Transactions for that and the
following year. It is through the kind liberality of its possessor,
the Duke of Buckingham, that this specimen has been placed for a
time at the disposal of my friend Professor Buckland for the purpose
of scientific investigation.
At the period of my former communications it was natural and even
just that in the minds of many persons interested in such
researches, much hesitation should be felt in admitting the
conclusions of an observer who was avowedly inexperienced in
comparative anatomy; and there might have then appeared reasonable
ground for the suspicion that, like the painter in Horace, I had
been led to constitute a fictitious animal from the juxtaposition of
incongruous members, referable in truth to different species. But
the magnificent specimen recently discovered at Lyme has confirmed
the justice of my former conclusions in every essential point
connected with the organization of the skeleton.
The only material error which I have to correct relates to the
bones which I supposed to be the radius and ulna : but with regard
to the other parts of the skeleton, in assigning- to the same animal
the heads and vertebræ which had at that time never been found
in connexion, and whose actual relation was therefore regarded by
many as equivocal, in indicating the order and place of the several
kinds of vertebra, and in tracing- the osteology of the
humero-sternal parts, my opinions have received full confirmation.
In the attempted restoration of the paddle also (though professedly
given only on