Reviews:Thomson, K. 2008. The Legacy of the Mastodon. The Golden Age of Fossils in America. xvii + 386 pp.

Anderson, L. I. (2009) Reviews:Thomson, K. 2008. The Legacy of the Mastodon. The Golden Age of Fossils in America. xvii + 386 pp. Geological Magazine, 146 (6). pp. 941-942. DOI 10.1017/S0016756809006049

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Those who perhaps have had only a fleeting association with any form of vertebrate palaeontology should not be dissuaded by the title of this book. Thomson carefully uses the initial discoveries of the massive fossil bones from the saline springs of Big Bone Lick, Kentucky in the 1750s to begin the chronology of many of the major North American vertebrate fossil finds up until the late 1890s. These were the bones which were only later referred to as those of the Mastodon (Mammut americanum). The resultant timeline not only charts the development of this branch of palaeontology in the fledgling American West, but introduces some key historic figures in the context of their expeditionary travels, institutional affiliations (or otherwise) and their inter-relationships (friends, foes, buyers and sellers). With far fewer active proponents of the science then than now, the boundaries between adherents of vertebrate and invertebrate palaeontology and palaeobotany were not nearly as proscriptive. Of course this did not prevent monumental rivalries between some competing figures, keen to make and retain their name with their scientific discoveries. Consequently, over half the book is given over to the detailing of the expeditions, rivalries and eventual feuds of the dinosaur hunters Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 09AREP;
Subjects: 04 - Palaeobiology
99 - Other
Divisions: 99 - Other
Journal or Publication Title: Geological Magazine
Volume: 146
Page Range: pp. 941-942
Identification Number: 10.1017/S0016756809006049
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2010 14:06
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2013 09:57

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