A History of Dinosaur Discoveries
- Farlow and Brett-Surman: pp. 1-33
- The Earliest Discoveries: William A. S. Sarjeant
- European Dinosaur Hunters: Hans-Dieter Sues
- North American Dinosaur Hunters: Edwin H. Colbert
- Politics and Paleontology: Richard Owen and the Invention of
Dinosaurs: Hugh Torrens
Dingus and Rowe: pp. 1-9; 125-132
- Appendix: A Chronological History of Dinosaur Paleontology: M. K. Brett-Surman
Information from Paul Olsen's
- 1660s - Hooke & Steno recognize fossils as remains of living things.
- 1676 - Robert Plot described a distal femur of a dinosaur real as a thigh bone of
an elephant brought in by the Romans. Richard Brooks in 1763 reillustrated the bone
which he labelled Scrotum humanum [as a descriptive appelation]. In 1768 Jean
Babtiste Robinet described the specimen a real scrotum.
- Not a dinosaur, but a fossil with a history: Mosasaurus
hoffmani from Belgium
- 1824 - William Buckland formally descibes Megalosaurus, the first known
carnivorous dinosaur. Cuvier thought it might be 40 ft long.
- 1825 - Gideon Mantell names Iguanodon based on a tooth reportedly found by his
wife Mary Ann Mantell. Mantell reasoned that it might be a giant version of an
Iguana. Cuvier initially identified the teeth as those of a rhinoceros.
1822 to the present day: The changing shape of a dinosaur
- 1836 - Edward Hitchcock reported the discovery of tracks of what he believed were giant
birds, from late Triassic deposits of the Connecticut Valley. The tracks were first
discovered by Pliny Moody in 1802 or 1803. One particular slab at the Moody
home was referred to as the track of "Noah's Raven"
- 1842 - Sir Richard Owen put
Iguanodon, Megalosaurus, and Hylaeosaurus in a group he named
the Dinosauria , usually translated as "terrible lizards", but perhaps
more correctly as fearfully great lizards. Owen noted that they had a mixture of
reptilian and mammalian (or bird-like) features..
- 1853 - Benjamin
Waterhouse Hawkins, an artist supervised by Owen, builds life-size statues of Iguanodon
and Megalosaurus for the exhibition at the Crystal
Palace At the inauguration of the new exhibit, a
dinner was held inside the model Iguanodon.
- 1858 - Joseph Leidy
describes a partial skeleton of a dinosaur that he names Hadrosaurus
foulki. "Leidy showed that Hadrosaurus was clearly similar to
Iguanodon, but because it had such short arms it almost certainly had to be bipedal.
This had the immediate effect of revolutionizing the reconstructions of dinosaurs.
Now dinosaurs would be reconstructed as active, fairly graceful animals." (Olsen)
- 1868 - Benjamin
Waterhouse Hawkins, commissioned to make a display of dinosaur reconstructions in
Central Park, New York City, restores Hadrosaurus as an upright, biped. Because
Hawkins criticized the corrupt politician "Boss Tweed", Tweed's gang destroyed
- 1882 - Lois Dollo describes completely articulated Iguanodon skeletons
discovered in a coal mine in Bernissart, Belgium. These demonstrated that the spike-like
object that Mantell thought was a nasal horn was a thumb.
- 1860's to 1890's - Edward
Drinker Cope (1840-1897), and Othniel Charles Marsh
(1831-1899) ended up in a vituperative feud over dinosaur discoveries in the western
- 1905--The first Tyrannosaurus skeleton
- 1916-- The first T. rex Mount
- 1975 - Robert Bakker's publication, "Dinosaur Renaissance" [Scientific
American 232 (1975):58-78], popularizes the idea of "warm-blooded" dinosaurs.
- 1979 - John Horner finds Maiasaura hatchlings and adults and dinosaur nesting grounds;
he proposes parental care of offspring by dinosaurs [Horner, J. R. 1984. The nesting
behavior of dinosaurs. Scientific American 250:1301-37].
- 1980 - Luis Alvarez et al. [Extraterrestrial cause for the Cretaceous-Tertiary
extinction. Science 208:1095-1108] propose an asteroidal impact at the end of Cretaceous
to explain the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Current Topics in
Dinosaur Studies from the Museum of Paleontology