November 23rd, 2011
Image courtesy of Davidson, J. P. (2002). Bonehead mistakes: The background in scientific literature and illustrations for Edward Drinker Cope’s first restoration of Elasmosaurus platyurus. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Vol. 152, p. 220 (via JSTOR)
Fossil remains of Plesiosaurus macrocephalus, a large marine reptile similar to Elasmosaurus platyurus.

Image courtesy of Davidson, J. P. (2002). Bonehead mistakes: The background in scientific literature and illustrations for Edward Drinker Cope’s first restoration of Elasmosaurus platyurus. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Vol. 152, p. 220 (via JSTOR)

Fossil remains of Plesiosaurus macrocephalus, a large marine reptile similar to Elasmosaurus platyurus.

Bone Wars: The Cope-Marsh Rivalry - ANSP’s 200 Stories
Othniel Charles Marsh (left) and Edward Drinker Cope Ewell Sale Stewart Library & Archives coll. 457
The rivalry between brilliant paleontologists Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh dominated American science during the second half of the 19th century. Marsh and Cope’s relationship soured when Cope showed off his fossil of Elasmosaurus, a large marine reptile from the Late Cretaceous period, and Marsh pointed out that the vertebrae (backbones) were oriented backwards. After a sharp exchange they agreed to have Academy curator Joseph Leidy decide who was right. Leidy promptly removed the head from one end and placed it on what Cope had thought was the tail. Afterwards, Cope frantically tried to collect all copies of a recently printed publication that contained his erroneous reconstruction. Leidy exposed the error and attempted cover-up at the next meeting of the Academy of Natural Sciences.
The rivalry between Cope and Marsh went from bad to worse. Although their race to discover and name new species yielded many fossil discoveries, it drove both men to extremes. Cope’s rushed work was plagued by careless errors. Marsh often resorted to bribery and bullying in the pursuit of specimens. Their exchanges in print were filled with poisonous charges and countercharges of errors, distortions, and fraud. At first these exchanges were limited to scientific journals, but later they made their way to the newspapers.
The Bone Wars between Marsh and Cope became so intense that Joseph Leidy veered away from his studies of vertebrate paleontology of the West. Learn how Leidy continued to develop a prolific career in other areas. 
"The competition between Cope and Marsh marked an extraordinarily productive period in American paleontology. Together, these two men discovered and described more than 140 new species of fossil animals" (Getting to know Cope, ANSP, 2011)
Click here to see this story online at ANSP’s 200 Stories series!

Bone Wars: The Cope-Marsh Rivalry - ANSP’s 200 Stories

Othniel Charles Marsh (left) and Edward Drinker Cope Ewell Sale Stewart Library & Archives coll. 457

The rivalry between brilliant paleontologists Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh dominated American science during the second half of the 19th century. Marsh and Cope’s relationship soured when Cope showed off his fossil of Elasmosaurus, a large marine reptile from the Late Cretaceous period, and Marsh pointed out that the vertebrae (backbones) were oriented backwards. After a sharp exchange they agreed to have Academy curator Joseph Leidy decide who was right. Leidy promptly removed the head from one end and placed it on what Cope had thought was the tail. Afterwards, Cope frantically tried to collect all copies of a recently printed publication that contained his erroneous reconstruction. Leidy exposed the error and attempted cover-up at the next meeting of the Academy of Natural Sciences.

The rivalry between Cope and Marsh went from bad to worse. Although their race to discover and name new species yielded many fossil discoveries, it drove both men to extremes. Cope’s rushed work was plagued by careless errors. Marsh often resorted to bribery and bullying in the pursuit of specimens. Their exchanges in print were filled with poisonous charges and countercharges of errors, distortions, and fraud. At first these exchanges were limited to scientific journals, but later they made their way to the newspapers.

The Bone Wars between Marsh and Cope became so intense that Joseph Leidy veered away from his studies of vertebrate paleontology of the West. Learn how Leidy continued to develop a prolific career in other areas

"The competition between Cope and Marsh marked an extraordinarily productive period in American paleontology. Together, these two men discovered and described more than 140 new species of fossil animals" (Getting to know Cope, ANSP, 2011)

Click here to see this story online at ANSP’s 200 Stories series!

November 11th, 2011
Marine Reptile or Ancient Whale?, ANSP’s 200 Stories
Detail of Plate XXII from Richard Harlan’s 1835 article on Basilosaurus in the Transactions of the Geological Society of Pennsylvania. The large figure at the top is a fragment of the upper jaw. Several damaged but still intact teeth are shown along the bottom left edge of the upper jaw.
Academy naturalist Richard Harlan published several reports in the 1830s on the incomplete fossil remains of a massive creature. Harlan believed the animal’s huge vertebrae (backbones) resembled those belonging to extinct marine reptiles that resided in Europe. The fragment of its upper jaw was hollow, which confirmed Harlan’s suspicion that the creature was a reptile. On the other hand, the few teeth on that jaw differed from one another, which suggested the creature was a mammal. Harlan was still convinced the animal was a marine reptile. He named it Basilosaurus, which means ruling lizard.
Some of Harlan’s American colleagues disagreed, including fellow Academy member Samuel George Morton who thought Basilosaurus was an ancient whale. On the other side of the Atlantic, there was a similar debate about the animal’s identity. Harlan went to England to present his case to the Geological Society of London. Prior to the meeting, he met with Richard Owen, one of the leading scientists of the day. They examined the fossils using the latest techniques, and Owen convinced Harlan that the form and microscopic anatomy of the teeth proved Basilosaurus was a whale. Owen renamed it Zeuglodon (yoked tooth), yet the animal is still known as Basilosaurus because Harlan’s name came first. Later discoveries of more complete fossils confirmed that the animal was a primitive whale that may have measured 70 feet in length.

Marine Reptile or Ancient Whale?, ANSP’s 200 Stories

Detail of Plate XXII from Richard Harlan’s 1835 article on Basilosaurus in the Transactions of the Geological Society of Pennsylvania. The large figure at the top is a fragment of the upper jaw. Several damaged but still intact teeth are shown along the bottom left edge of the upper jaw.

Academy naturalist Richard Harlan published several reports in the 1830s on the incomplete fossil remains of a massive creature. Harlan believed the animal’s huge vertebrae (backbones) resembled those belonging to extinct marine reptiles that resided in Europe. The fragment of its upper jaw was hollow, which confirmed Harlan’s suspicion that the creature was a reptile. On the other hand, the few teeth on that jaw differed from one another, which suggested the creature was a mammal. Harlan was still convinced the animal was a marine reptile. He named it Basilosaurus, which means ruling lizard.

Some of Harlan’s American colleagues disagreed, including fellow Academy member Samuel George Morton who thought Basilosaurus was an ancient whale. On the other side of the Atlantic, there was a similar debate about the animal’s identity. Harlan went to England to present his case to the Geological Society of London. Prior to the meeting, he met with Richard Owen, one of the leading scientists of the day. They examined the fossils using the latest techniques, and Owen convinced Harlan that the form and microscopic anatomy of the teeth proved Basilosaurus was a whale. Owen renamed it Zeuglodon (yoked tooth), yet the animal is still known as Basilosaurus because Harlan’s name came first. Later discoveries of more complete fossils confirmed that the animal was a primitive whale that may have measured 70 feet in length.

November 5th, 2011
Ice Age Discovery, ANSP’s 200 Stories
Edgar B. Howard and John Lambert Cotter examine Clovis points from Blackwater Draw, New Mexico. Bones from a fossil mammoth appear in the background.
In 1932 a road construction crew encountered large quantities of bison and mammoth bones while looking for gravel near Clovis, New Mexico. Alerted to the news, Academy Curator of Geology and Paleontology Edgar B. Howard quickly investigated. In 1936, Howard, other Academy staff, and experts from the University of Pennsylvania Museum and the California Institute of Technology began excavation at the Blackwater Draw site.
The site contained fossils from a variety of extinct Pleistocene mammals, including horses, camels, bison, and mammoths. The site also contained several pointy stone and bone tools that were from the same time period as the mammoth bones, thus making Blackwater Draw the first site to demonstrate that Paleo-Indians (the earliest Native Americans) lived alongside Ice Age mammals. The tools, called Clovis points, were found with the large mammal remains. The discovery of these points in extinct species led some researchers to propose that Clovis big-game hunters contributed to the mass extinction of several large mammals at the end of the Pleistocene.

Ice Age Discovery, ANSP’s 200 Stories

Edgar B. Howard and John Lambert Cotter examine Clovis points from Blackwater Draw, New Mexico. Bones from a fossil mammoth appear in the background.

In 1932 a road construction crew encountered large quantities of bison and mammoth bones while looking for gravel near Clovis, New Mexico. Alerted to the news, Academy Curator of Geology and Paleontology Edgar B. Howard quickly investigated. In 1936, Howard, other Academy staff, and experts from the University of Pennsylvania Museum and the California Institute of Technology began excavation at the Blackwater Draw site.

The site contained fossils from a variety of extinct Pleistocene mammals, including horses, camels, bison, and mammoths. The site also contained several pointy stone and bone tools that were from the same time period as the mammoth bones, thus making Blackwater Draw the first site to demonstrate that Paleo-Indians (the earliest Native Americans) lived alongside Ice Age mammals. The tools, called Clovis points, were found with the large mammal remains. The discovery of these points in extinct species led some researchers to propose that Clovis big-game hunters contributed to the mass extinction of several large mammals at the end of the Pleistocene.

October 30th, 2011
Hadrosaurus foulkii, ANSP’s 200 Stories
Retouched photograph of B. W. Hawkins beneath his reconstruction of Hadrosaurus foulkii: Ewell Sale Stewart Library & Archives, Coll. 803.
In 1858, hardly anyone had heard the term “dinosaur.” But Academy member William Parker Foulke had learned about these creatures while attending Academy meetings. That summer Foulke had dinner with a Haddonfield, New Jersey, farmer who reported some bone-like objects that workers had uncovered 20 years earlier. After confirming that these objects were fossilized dinosaur bones, Foulke persuaded Joseph Leidy to come to Haddonfield. The bones Foulke dug up led to the assemblage of the most complete dinosaur skeleton of the day. Leidy named the speciesHadrosaurus foulkii (“Foulke’s bulky lizard”).
Ten years later, an Englishman named Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins offered to mount the skeleton if we let him make a copy for his Paleozoic museum planned for Central Park. (His museum was never built.) Academy members agreed, and in 1868, we unveiled the world’s first mounted dinosaur skeleton. The posture was a bit off and the skull was made up, but the exhibit was an instant sensation, drawing people from all over the world.
You can see a display of Hadrosaurus as well as many other exciting dinosaur skeletons in our Dinosaur Hall!

Hadrosaurus foulkii, ANSP’s 200 Stories

Retouched photograph of B. W. Hawkins beneath his reconstruction of Hadrosaurus foulkii: Ewell Sale Stewart Library & Archives, Coll. 803.

In 1858, hardly anyone had heard the term “dinosaur.” But Academy member William Parker Foulke had learned about these creatures while attending Academy meetings. That summer Foulke had dinner with a Haddonfield, New Jersey, farmer who reported some bone-like objects that workers had uncovered 20 years earlier. After confirming that these objects were fossilized dinosaur bones, Foulke persuaded Joseph Leidy to come to Haddonfield. The bones Foulke dug up led to the assemblage of the most complete dinosaur skeleton of the day. Leidy named the speciesHadrosaurus foulkii (“Foulke’s bulky lizard”).

Ten years later, an Englishman named Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins offered to mount the skeleton if we let him make a copy for his Paleozoic museum planned for Central Park. (His museum was never built.) Academy members agreed, and in 1868, we unveiled the world’s first mounted dinosaur skeleton. The posture was a bit off and the skull was made up, but the exhibit was an instant sensation, drawing people from all over the world.

You can see a display of Hadrosaurus as well as many other exciting dinosaur skeletons in our Dinosaur Hall!

October 27th, 2011
Ancient Fauna, ANSP’s 200 Stories
Plates I, IV, and XXII from “Ancient Fauna of Nebraska.” An early camel, Poebrotherium, is shown at the top of Plate I (left). Two species of oreodonts (Mericoidodon) are shown in Plate IV (center). A rhinoceros,Subhyracodon, is shown on the right.
Published in 1853, Academy naturalist Joseph Leidy’s “Ancient Fauna of Nebraska” informed readers about the great paleontological treasures waiting to be uncovered in the American West. Written by Academy naturalist Joseph Leidy and published in the Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, this volume provided its author the opportunity to illustrate and fully describe his specimens.
All of the fossils came from other explorers’ expeditions to the Mauvaise Terres, or White River Badlands, of what is now South Dakota. Dating from approximately 38 million years ago, the fossils represented previously unknown animals, including 15 species of mammals and five species of turtles. These included an early camel, two extinct species of rhinoceroses, brontotheres (thunder beasts), entelodonts (killer pigs), and oreodonts (ruminating hogs).
In 1856 Leidy made the first report of dinosaur fossils in North America. Two years later, he reported on the skeleton of Hadrosaurus foulkii, a large dinosaur discovered in New Jersey which was the most complete dinosaur skeleton known at the time. Find Leidy’s statue in front of the museum on the Parkway, and check out Hadrosaurus in our Dinosaur Hall today!

Ancient Fauna, ANSP’s 200 Stories

Plates I, IV, and XXII from “Ancient Fauna of Nebraska.” An early camel, Poebrotherium, is shown at the top of Plate I (left). Two species of oreodonts (Mericoidodon) are shown in Plate IV (center). A rhinoceros,Subhyracodon, is shown on the right.

Published in 1853, Academy naturalist Joseph Leidy’s “Ancient Fauna of Nebraska” informed readers about the great paleontological treasures waiting to be uncovered in the American West. Written by Academy naturalist Joseph Leidy and published in the Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, this volume provided its author the opportunity to illustrate and fully describe his specimens.

All of the fossils came from other explorers’ expeditions to the Mauvaise Terres, or White River Badlands, of what is now South Dakota. Dating from approximately 38 million years ago, the fossils represented previously unknown animals, including 15 species of mammals and five species of turtles. These included an early camel, two extinct species of rhinoceroses, brontotheres (thunder beasts), entelodonts (killer pigs), and oreodonts (ruminating hogs).

In 1856 Leidy made the first report of dinosaur fossils in North America. Two years later, he reported on the skeleton of Hadrosaurus foulkii, a large dinosaur discovered in New Jersey which was the most complete dinosaur skeleton known at the time. Find Leidy’s statue in front of the museum on the Parkway, and check out Hadrosaurus in our Dinosaur Hall today!

August 25th, 2011

curiositycounts:

Jurassic Infographics – audio from Jurassic Park with charming simple infographics offers a charming taxonomy of dinosaurs  (via)

I’m not sure how accurate the facts from this audio clip are, but I couldn’t resist such a well done video. Also kind of reblogging for my professor and paleo-enthusiast, Dr. G!

Keep questioning,
Sara 

(Source: curiositycounts)

July 9th, 2011
scientificillustration:

Symbiartic - The art of science and the science of art, a new Scientific American blog
‘In this blog, we hope to draw attention to the art in science and the science in art (pun fully intended), essentially mapping the interface between science & art. May we learn from it and spread our sciencey mission to the unsuspecting masses’

First of all: I love when science is combined with the arts! This past week I went through training for the Academy’s summer camps (I’ll be helping out with 4 of the 7 sessions), and one of the teachers/lead counselors is also an art teacher and hopes to get inspired to make some art-science connections. It’s when those boundaries are breached that I get really excited about education!
Now, to address “Your Inner Fish!” I read Shubin’s book for a geoscience class during my freshman year, and was lucky enough to visit the lab where the subject of the book, the Tiktaalik rosae was kept and cared for. Funny enough, this lab was the office of Ted Daeschler, the Associate Curator for the Vertebrate Paleontology collections at the Academy of Natural Sciences! Ted was actually one of the 3 paleontologists to discover the fossil. I met him during that field trip freshman year, and now I’m currently working on my thesis at the Academy with his support. Small world!
Keep questioning,Sara 

scientificillustration:

Symbiartic - The art of science and the science of art, a new Scientific American blog

‘In this blog, we hope to draw attention to the art in science and the science in art (pun fully intended), essentially mapping the interface between science & art. May we learn from it and spread our sciencey mission to the unsuspecting masses’

First of all: I love when science is combined with the arts! This past week I went through training for the Academy’s summer camps (I’ll be helping out with 4 of the 7 sessions), and one of the teachers/lead counselors is also an art teacher and hopes to get inspired to make some art-science connections. It’s when those boundaries are breached that I get really excited about education!

Now, to address “Your Inner Fish!” I read Shubin’s book for a geoscience class during my freshman year, and was lucky enough to visit the lab where the subject of the book, the Tiktaalik rosae was kept and cared for. Funny enough, this lab was the office of Ted Daeschler, the Associate Curator for the Vertebrate Paleontology collections at the Academy of Natural Sciences! Ted was actually one of the 3 paleontologists to discover the fossil. I met him during that field trip freshman year, and now I’m currently working on my thesis at the Academy with his support. Small world!

Keep questioning,
Sara 

June 15th, 2011
Ancient Sea Turtle Discovered in New Jersey! (via philly.com)
A photo story documents the discovery of a 65 million-year-old turtle fossil by paleontologists at the Academy of Natural Sciences and Drexel University.
Keep questioning,Sara 

Ancient Sea Turtle Discovered in New Jersey! (via philly.com)

A photo story documents the discovery of a 65 million-year-old turtle fossil by paleontologists at the Academy of Natural Sciences and Drexel University.

Keep questioning,
Sara