The Second Jurassic Dinosaur Rush
Museums and Paleontology in America at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
The so-called “Bone Wars” of the 1880s, which pitted Edward Drinker Cope against Othniel Charles Marsh in a frenzy of fossil collection and discovery, may have marked the introduction of dinosaurs to the American public, but the second Jurassic dinosaur rush, which took place around the turn of the twentieth century, brought the prehistoric beasts back to life. These later expeditions—which involved new competitors hailing from leading natural history museums in New York, Chicago, and Pittsburgh—yielded specimens that would be reconstructed into the colossal skeletons that thrill visitors today in museum halls across the country.
Reconsidering the fossil speculation, the museum displays, and the media frenzy that ushered dinosaurs into the American public consciousness, Paul Brinkman takes us back to the birth of dinomania, the modern obsession with all things Jurassic. Featuring engaging and colorful personalities and motivations both altruistic and ignoble, The Second Jurassic Dinosaur Rush shows that these later expeditions were just as foundational—if not more so—to the establishment of paleontology and the budding collections of museums than the more famous Cope and Marsh treks. With adventure, intrigue, and rivalry, this is science at its most swashbuckling.
“In the years around 1900, major U.S. museums raced to find the best and biggest dinosaurs and put them on display. It was a decisive decade for paleontology, when the public first got a spectacular view of the strangeness of the prehistoric world, and dinomania first took off. Based on thorough archival research, this is a fascinating story of ambitious administrators and scientists, their moneyed patrons, and the often invisible technicians and fieldworkers on whom the whole project depended.”
“This superbly researched and illustrated book carries the subject of dinosaur paleontology from the end of the much discussed Marsh-Cope era to just short of the discovery of Dinosaur National Monument. It is a period of the establishment of museums in New York, Pittsburgh, and Chicago to exhibit the mounted skeletons. From the archives, including many letters from the field collectors like Hatcher to museum directors like Holland, one learns details of the collecting at major quarries like Bone Cabin Quarry and Sheep Creek, but also of the scientists’ often complicated relationships with one another and with their superiors. At the end, one feels personally acquainted with the personalities in this engaging book.”
List of Illustrations
1 Scientists Wage Bitter Warfare
2 Osborn’s Sorry Valentine
3 Wortman Assumes Charge
4 Most Colossal Animal on Earth
5 An Overconfident Start
6 The Monster of All Ages
7 A Monkey and a Parrot of a Time
8 Fossil Wonders of the West
9 Watch the Dinosaur Shrink!
10 Hatcher Heads West
11 Last Days in the Jurassic
12 Putting Dinosaurs in Their Places
Conclusion: What’s the Rush?