Scientists Wage Bitter Warfare

in The Second Jurassic Dinosaur Rush

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780226074726
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226074733 | DOI:
Scientists Wage Bitter Warfare

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The first American Jurassic dinosaur rush began in April 1877, when Arthur Lakes and Henry C. Beckwith unearthed gigantic bones from a now-famous hogback ridge near Morrison, Colorado. Lakes sent samples to two prominent Eastern paleontologists: Othniel Charles Marsh, a Yale professor, and Edward Drinker Cope, a brilliant and combative Quaker from Philadelphia. The two pillars of vertebrate paleontology, Cope and Marsh were already bitter rivals, and the fossil feud between them netted a wealth of new data that revolutionized the study of Jurassic dinosaurs. Before 1877, Jurassic dinosaurs were a very poorly known group, thanks in large part to a dearth of good fossils in Great Britain, Germany, France, and other traditional centers of paleontology. The Jurassic beds of the American West, on the other hand, showed themselves to be far more extensive and more fossiliferous than their European equivalents, and they yielded a superabundance of new dinosaurs, better preserved and often far more complete than anything found previously. Marsh was the clear winner in the race for Jurassic dinosaurs, but his victory made him the object of Cope's envy. Although Cope enjoyed a fair number of successes, his Yale rival took the lion's share of the finest fossils.

Keywords: Othniel Charles Marsh; Edward Drinker Cope; fossils; vertebrate paleontology; Jurassic dinosaurs

Chapter.  7658 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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