The History Of Paleontology

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The History Of Paleontology

Some of the earliest attempts of using fossils in a scientific way come from China and Ancient Greece. The Chinese naturalist, Shen Kou, used bamboo fossils to show climate changes. He found fossilized bamboo in places that, at his time, were too dry for bamboo to live. An even earlier Greek philosopher, Xenophanes, found fossilized sea shells on dry land, concluding that the dry land must have been covered by water at some time.


In the 1800’s there was a worldwide interest in geology and paleontology. This interest was sparked by two men, Charles Marsh and Edward Cope, who were responsible for discovering 142 species of dinosaurs. Both Marsh and Cope were wealthy, and used their personal wealth and influence to find dinosaur bones. Somehow, the two men got into a personal feud to see who could discover more dinosaurs. They even went as far as stealing the other’s bones, and spying to get ahead. People called Marsh’s and Cope’s feud the Great Bone War. The two men and their assistants would discover enough dinosaur bones to keep paleontologists working for several decades.

They also discovered the Morrison Formation. The Morrison Formation is a layer of rock that holds more Jurassic dinosaur bones than any other formation in North America. Years after the bone wars, people got tired of looking for dinosaurs. It wasn’t until the 1960’s when scientists uncovered new facts about dinosaurs, and people’s interest began to grow again.