The Dinosaur Hunters: A True Story of Scientific Rivalry and the Discovery of the Prehistoric World (Text Only Edition)
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The story of two nineteenth-century scientists who revealed one of the most significant and exciting events in the natural history of this planet: the existence of dinosaurs.
In ‘The Dinosaur Hunters’ Deborah Cadbury brilliantly recreates the remarkable story of the bitter rivalry between two men: Gideon Mantell uncovered giant bones in a Sussex quarry, became obsessed with the lost world of the reptiles and was driven to despair. Richard Owen, a brilliant anatomist, gave the extinct creatures their name and secured for himself unrivalled international acclaim.
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that these supplied the muscles and soft parts around the mouth. From this, he inferred that ‘the under-lip was capable of being protruded and retracted’ and together with a ‘large, fleshy, prehensile tongue … formed a powerful instrument for seizing and cropping the leaves and branches’. These ideas anticipated many later studies on the soft tissues of Iguanodon cheeks and mouth, although it is now known that it did not have a large, prehensile tongue. From the quantities of vegetables that it
experts, this was observed by the geologist Robert Bakewell and quoted in H. S. Torrens, ‘The scientific ancestry and historiography of the Silurian System’, the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, vol. 147 (1990), pp. 657–62. Torrens’s article, p. 659, also describes Greenough’s ‘highly political grip’ on the Geological Society. The quotation from William Smith comes from Horace Woodward, The History of the Geological Society of London (London: Geological Society, 1907). The evidence
lost the small stipend supporting him, leaving nothing but a tiny income from the sale of curios, he closed the account of his miserable existence and committed suicide by leaping off the Gun-Cliff wall in the centre of Lyme into the sea. No one could explain what these ‘curios’ were. Petrified in the rocks on the shore were strange shapes, like fragments of the backbone of a giant, unknown creature. These were sold locally as ‘verteberries’. There were enormous pointed teeth, thought to be
Solm. He later entered the great Mining Academy of Freiberg, where his teaching on mineralogy became famous throughout Europe. Werner’s ideas and others’ showed that the earth’s crust could be classified into four distinct categories of rock, which were always found to be in the same order of succession. The oldest of these were the crystalline rocks such as granite, gneiss and schist, containing no fossils. These became known as the Primary rocks, corresponding to the most primitive period of
moved like a swan in the water, its long arms serving as flippers, like a penguin’s. Although Mary Anning’s new creature, named Pterodactylus macronyx by Buckland, was more perfectly preserved than the earlier fossils, the uncertainty over the nature of the beast persisted. The matter was only resolved ten years later, when it was observed that Pterodactylus bones had air ducts to lighten the skeleton. This pointed to Cuvier’s conclusion: the reptile was created for flight. The flying reptile,