Friday, May 22, 2015

Pteranodon from Disney's Fantasia

Born This Day: Oliver Perry Hay

Hay (May 22, 1846 – Nov. 2, 1930) was an American paleontologist whose catalogs of fossil vertebrates greatly organized existing knowledge and became standard references. Hay's primary scientific interest was the study of the Pleistocene vertebrata of North America and he is renowned for his work on skull and brain anatomy. His first major work was his Bibliography and Catalogue of the Fossil Vertebrata of North America (1902), supplemented by two more volumes (1929-30). Hay also wrote on the evidence of early humans in North America. link

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The First Dinosaur from Washington State



The fossil is 16.7 inches long and 8.7 inches wide. Because the fossil is incomplete, paleontologists aren't able to identify the exact theropod family or species it belonged to. However, Sidor and Peecook compared the fossil to other museums' specimens and were able to calculate that the complete femur would have been over 3 feet long -- slightly smaller than T. rex. The fossil is from the Late Cretaceous period and is approximately 80 million years old. PR

Born This Day: Mary Anning

Mary Anning (May 21, 1799 - March 9, 1847) was an English fossil collector who made her first significant discovery at the age of 11 or 12 (sources differ on the details), when she found a complete skeleton of an Ichthyosaurus, from the Jurassic period. The ten-meter (30 feet) long skeleton created a sensation and made her famous.

Anning's determination and keen scientific interest in fossils derived from her father's interest in fossil hunting, and a need for the income derived from them to support her family after his death. in 1810. She sold large fossils to noted paleontologists of the day, and smaller ones to the tourist trade. In 1823, Anning made another great discovery, found the first complete Plesiosaurus.

Later in her life, the Geological Society of London granted Anning an honorary membership.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Died This Day: Stephen Jay Gould


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Sept. 10, 1941 - May 20. 2002
Here’s a nice piece on Gould by Henry Lowood from the Stanford Presidential Lectures in the Humanities and Arts.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Born This Day: William King Gregory

William King Gregory (May, 19 1876 – Dec. 29, 1970) was an American zoologist and paleontologist who studied under Henry Fairfield Osborn and joined the American Museum of Natural History in 1911. As a professor at Columbia University one of his students was Alfred Sherwood Romer. His work charted the evolution from the early fishes through the various branches to birds and mammals, with numerous papers and two important books: Our Face from Fish to Man (1929) and Evolution Emerging (1951).

In the early 1920s he also became interested in recent human evolution and joined the Central Asiatic Expedtions lead by Roy Chapman Andrews whose original goal was to find evidence of human ancestors in the Gobi Desert. With C.C. Mook he wrote the paper, On Protoceratops, a primative ceratopsian dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of Mongolia and well as numerous papers on Cretaceous mammals.

Gregory wrote a number of popular articles on evolution and fossils that you find through the Google Books on-line archive of old magazines.




Premiered This Day (1915): The Dinosaur & The Missing Link

On this day back in 1915, The Dinosaur and The Missing took its bow in US cinemas. It features the earliest work of a young Willis O'Brien who would go on to bring King Kong to life. Watch the film thanks to The Library of Congress.

Born This Day: Carl Akeley


Read his story over at Atomic Surgery

The Hall of African Mammals at the American Museum of Natural History exists thanks to the efforts of Carl Akeley (May 19, 1864 - Nov 17, 1926) who was the kind of adventurer that Indy Jones could only dream of being.



He died on an African expedition in 1926, ten years before this hall was completed and was buried in a place depicted in the Hall's famous Gorilla Diorama. Of course we approach collecting and conservation differently today, but Akeley is to be commended for his love of nature and his desire to present its hidden corners to the world.

From Today In Science History:

Carl Ethan Akeley was an American naturalist and explorer who developed the taxidermic method for mounting museum displays to show animals in their natural surroundings. His method of applying skin on a finely molded replica of the body of the animal gave results of unprecedented realism and elevated taxidermy from a craft to an art. He mounted the skeleton of the famous African elephant Jumbo. He invented the Akeley cement gun to use while mounting animals, and the Akeley camera which was used to capture the first movies of gorillas.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Scopes Monkey Trail Law Repealed

On this day in 1967, the governor of Tennessee signed into law the repeal of the 1925 state law prohibiting the teaching of evolution.
The original law had made it "unlawful for any teacher in any of the Universities, Normals and all other public schools of the State which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals."

It was this law that was tested in what became known as the "Scopes monkey trial." Scopes was found guilty, but acquitted on a technicality upon appeal. The law itself remained a Tennessee state statute for 42 years.
From Today In Science History

Born This Day: Thomas Davison

May 17, 1817 – Oct. 14, 1885

Davison was a Scottish naturalist and paleontologist who became known as an authority on brachiopods. His major work, Monograph of British Fossil Brachiopoda, was published by the Palaeontographical Society. Together with supplements, this comprised six quarto volumes with more than 200 plates drawn on stone by the author. Upon his death, he bequeathed his fine collection of recent and fossil brachiopoda to the British Museum.