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The Bone Wars is the name given to a period of intense fossil speculation and discovery during the Gilded Age of American history, marked by a heated rivalry between Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh. Each of the two paleontologists used underhanded methods to out-compete the other in the field, resorting to bribery, theft, and destruction of bones. The scientists also attacked each other in scientific publications, attempting to ruin the other's credibility and cut off his funding. Originally colleagues who were civil to each other, Cope and Marsh became bitter enemies after several personal slights between them. Their pursuit of bones led them west to rich bone beds in Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming. From 1877 to 1892, both paleontologists used their wealth and influence to finance their own expeditions and to procure services and fossils from dinosaur hunters. By the end of the Bone Wars, both men exhausted their funds in fueling their intense rivalry. Cope and Marsh were financially and socially ruined by their efforts to disgrace each other, but their contributions to science and the field of paleontology were massive; the scientists left behind tons of unopened boxes of fossils on their deaths. The feud between the two men led to over 142 new species of dinosaurs being discovered and described. (Read more...)


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Paul Sereno2

Paul Sereno is an American paleontologist who is the discoverer of several new dinosaur species on several continents. He has conducted excavations at sites as varied as Inner Mongolia, Argentina, Morocco and Niger. He is a professor at the University of Chicago and a National Geographic "explorer-in-residence." Sereno's most widely publicized discovery is that of a nearly complete specimen of Sarcosuchus imperator (popularly known as SuperCroc) at Gadoufaoua in the Tenere desert of Niger. Other major discoveries include Eoraptor - the oldest known dinosaur fossil, Jobaria, the first good skull of Carcharodontosaurus iguidensis, Afrovenator, Suchomimus and the African pterosaur. (Read more...)

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"The science of fossil shells is the first step towards the study of the earth."
—Giovanni Battista Brocchi Conchiologia Fossile Subappennina (1814), Vol. I, trans. Ezio Vaccari, 13.


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Naturkundemuseum Berlin - Archaeopteryx - Eichstätt

The Berlin Specimen (HMN 1880) of Archaeopteryx was discovered in 1876 or 1877 on the Blumenberg near Eichstätt, Germany, by Jakob Niemeyer. He exchanged this precious fossil for a cow, with Johann Dörr. Placed on sale in 1881, with potential buyers including O.C. Marsh of Yale University's Peabody Museum, it was bought by the Humboldt Museum für Naturkunde, where it is now displayed. The transaction was financed by Ernst Werner von Siemens, founder of the famous company that bears his name. Described in 1884 by Wilhelm Dames, it is the most complete specimen, and the first with a complete head. Once classified as a new species, A. siemensii, a recent evaluation supports the A. siemensii species definition.

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