paleontology

Sir Richard Owen and the Interpretation of Fossils

Sir Richard Owen and the Interpretation of Fossils

On July 20, 1804, English biologist, comparative anatomist and paleontologist Sir Richard Owen was born. Despite being a controversial figure, Owen is generally considered to have been an outstanding naturalist with a remarkable gift for interpreting fossils. Owen is probably best remembered today for coining the word Dinosauria (meaning “Terrible Reptile” or “Fearfully Great Reptile“). And today, dinosaurs seem to be more popular than ever, taking into account recent revenues of the latest sequel of…
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She sells Sea Shells by the Sea Shore – Mary Anning and her Marine Fossils

She sells Sea Shells by the Sea Shore – Mary Anning and her Marine Fossils

On May 21, 1799, British fossil collector, dealer, and palaeontologist Mary Anning was born. She became known around the world for important finds she made in Jurassic marine fossil beds in the cliffs along the English Channel at Lyme Regis in the county of Dorset in Southwest England. Her work contributed to fundamental changes in scientific thinking about prehistoric life and the history of the Earth. “She sells sea-shells on the sea-shore,…
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Fossil Hunter Barnum Brown and the Tyrannosaurus Rex

Fossil Hunter Barnum Brown and the Tyrannosaurus Rex

On February 12, 1873, paleontologist Barnum Brown was born. He is best known for his discovery of the first documented remains of Tyrannosaurus rex during a career that made him one of the most famous fossil hunters working from the late Victorian era into the early 20th century. Fossil Hunter Barnum Brown Brown was named after the circus entrepreneur P. T. Barnum. He began studying at the University of Kansas in 1890, but…
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Othniel Charles Marsh and the Great Bone Wars

Othniel Charles Marsh and the Great Bone Wars

On October 29, 1831, American paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh was born. Being one of the preeminent scientists in the field, he discovered over 1000 fossils and contributed greatly to knowledge of extinct North American vertebrates. From the 1870s to 1890s he competed with rival paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope in a period of frenzied Western American expeditions known as the Bone Wars. Othniel Charles Marsh Background The term “paleontology” was coined just nine…
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How Ötzi the Iceman became World Famous

How Ötzi the Iceman became World Famous

On September 19, 1991, two German tourist found a corpse on the east ridge of the Fineilspitze in the Ötztal Alps on the Austrian–Italian border. The corpse turned out to be a well-preserved natural mummy of a man who lived around 3,300 BCE, which has become famous under the name “Ötzi“. The Discovery On 19 September 1991, Ötzi was found by two German tourists in the Ötztal Alps on the Austrian–Italian border,…
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Meet Sue, the Dinosaur

Meet Sue, the Dinosaur

Usually, in our articles we focus on a person, a development, an invention, or an decisive moment in history. Today, a long dead animal will be the protagonist of our post. But, it’s the story of an extraordinary finding. On August 12, 1990, Sue, largest, most extensive and best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex specimen ever found found up to date, was discovered by Sue Hendrickson in South Dakota. Sure, all kids love dinosaurs. When I was…
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Gerald Hawkins and the Secret of Stonehenge

Gerald Hawkins and the Secret of Stonehenge

On June 20, 1928, English astronomer and author Gerald Stanley Hawkins was born. He is best known for his work in the field of archaeoastronomy. In 1965 he published an analysis of Stonehenge in which he was the first to propose its purpose as an ancient astronomical observatory used to predict movements of sun and stars. Background Gerald Hawkins Gerald Hawkins was born in Great Yarmouth and studied physics and mathematics at…
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Charles Walcott and the Cambrian Explosion

Charles Walcott and the Cambrian Explosion

On August 30, 1909, American paleontologist Charles Doolittle Walcott discovered the Burgess Shale Formation, located in the Canadian Rockies of British Columbia. With its Cambrian fossils the Burgess Shale is one of the world’s most celebrated fossil fields. Walcott excavated repeatedly to collect more than 65,000 specimens from what is now known as the Walcott Quarry, named after him. “Nature has a habit of placing some of her most attractive treasures in places…
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Georges Cuvier and the Science of Paleontology

Georges Cuvier and the Science of Paleontology

On August 23, 1769, French naturalist and zoologist Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric Cuvier aka Georges Cuvier was born. He was a major figure in natural sciences research in the early 19th century, and was instrumental in establishing the fields of comparative anatomy and paleontology through his work in comparing living animals with fossils. “Why has not anyone seen that fossils alone gave birth to a theory about the formation of the earth, that without…
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Mary Leakey and the Discovery of the false ‘Nutcracker Man’

Mary Leakey and the Discovery of the false ‘Nutcracker Man’

On July 17, 1959, British paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey discovered the first fossil of the Paranthropus boisei at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. The Most Disciplined Student Mary Leakey was born as Mary Douglas Nicol , the daughter of the then well-known landscape painter Erskine Edward Nicol and the hobby painter Cecilia Marion Frere, who lived for years in France in the Dordogne. Frequent visits to prehistoric and archaeological sites in France aroused her interest in…
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