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Bone Warrior

On October 29, 1831, American paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh was born.

As a professor of paleontology at Yale, Marsh led student expeditions to the West aboard the recently completed Union Pacific Railway to find fossils. Full of energy and passion for his subject, Marsh found his duties time-consuming in teaching and curating vertebrate fossil collections for the university and for the US Geological Survey. He formed his own fossil expedition unit. He hired and organized several dozens of people to find and collect specimens. Most of his staff members hunted and collected Rocky Mountain area fossils; others served as assemblers of skeletal remains, illustrators, or clerical support.

Marsh was not the only paleontologist on the trail of “new”, “more”, and “bigger” fossil discoveries. He and several contemporaries were involved themselves in what has been referred to as “Bone Wars” sparked by amateur and professional scientists working flat out to support or add to the exciting new theories of Charles Darwin. Marsh convinced his financier uncle, George Peabody, to establish a museum of natural history at Yale… that Marsh directed and helped curate.

Photograph of Triceratops skull
Photograph of Triceratops skull from The Dinosaurs of North America by Othniel C. Marsh. [16th Annual Report of the USGS 1896]

He wrote over 300 papers and is credited with the naming of dinosaurs such as Triceratops, Diplodocus, and Stegosaurus among many others. His bone collections and papers became the centrepiece of Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.

The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History continues its research and studies, growing and building, until today when more than 13 million objects are housed in 10 different divisions that represent more than 4 billion years of geological, biological, and human history.

Oh yes, and home to other related researcher-scientists from Anthropology to Zoology – including several stops between – Botany, Entomology, Herpetology, Ichthyology, Mammalogy, Meteoritics, Mineralogy, Ornithology, Invertebrate & Vertebrate Paleontology, Invertebrate & Vertebrate Zoology. And some of their tools!

B Bondar / Real World Content Advantage