So I’m beginning a new series on english taxa, starting with the oldest of any, Rutellum impicatum. Now this name currently is invalid, but it has a very important story to tell. A single tooth was collected near Whitney, Oxfordshire, and later described as a “fish tooth” by Lhuyd. Now in 1699, when this was published, all fossils were simply believed to be fakes, pretty much rocks made by the earth that resembled animal bones. Lhuyd had a habit of describing all his “rocks” and giving them latin names, and for this tooth he chose Rutellum impicatum, meaning “pitch covered shovel”. Lhuyd also figured this tooth and provided a description, stating that the tooth was bright black and was found near “Caswelliana” near Whitney, Oxfordshire. However, according to Delair and Serjeant (2002), there is no civilization named Caswell anywhere near Whitney, and the closest Caswell is apparently in Wales. But Delair believed that Caswell was a simple misspelling for Carswell. Any british people can easily give me pointers on what I get wrong, as these are your cities and bones.
Rutellum is often noted to be a cetiosaurid based on the mid-jurassic age and location, however, I have noted that Rutellum bears and lacks many features similar with other sauropods, and based on simple morphology it appears to be intermediate between Shunosaurus and Cetiosaurus? teeth. But one intriguing thing is that the tooth bears a single feature that is only shared with Camarasaurus among sauropods, an anteroventral projection of the crown ventral to the dorsal edge of the root. This is about it for Rutellum, but I give you the only known illustration of the tooth, which is now lost.
- Delair, J.B., and Sarjeant, W.A.S. (2002). The earliest discoveries of dinosaurs: the records re-examined. Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association 113:185–197.
- Lhuyd, E. (1699). Lithophylacii Britannici Ichnographia, sive lapidium aliorumque fossilium Britannicorum singulari figura insignium. Gleditsch and Weidmann:London.