Othniel Charles Marsh

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Othniel Charles Marsh
Born(1831-10-29)October 29, 1831
DiedMarch 18, 1899(1899-03-18) (aged 67)
NationalityUnited States
Known forDinosaur fossils
Scientific career
InstitutionsYale University

Othniel Charles Marsh M.A PhD LL.D (October 29, 1831 – March 18, 1899) was one of the leading paleontologists of the 19th century. He discovered and named many fossils found in western North America.

Early life[change | change source]

Marsh was born in Lockport, New York, into a family of modest means. However, he was the nephew of the very rich banker and philanthropist, George Peabody.

He graduated from Yale College in 1860.[1] He later studied geology and mineralogy in New Haven, and afterwards paleontology and anatomy in Berlin, Heidelberg and Breslau. He returned to the United States in 1866 and was appointed professor of vertebrate paleontology at Yale University. He persuaded his uncle George Peabody to establish the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale.

Career[change | change source]

Othniel C. Marsh and Red Cloud in New Haven, Connecticut, c. 1880

Marsh and his many fossil hunters were able to uncover about 500 new species of fossil animals, which were named by Marsh himself.

In May 1871, Marsh uncovered the first pterosaur fossils found in America. He also found early horses, the Cretaceous and Jurassic dinosaurs Apatosaurus and Allosaurus, and described the toothed birds of the Cretaceous; Ichthyornis and Hesperornis.

Marsh is also known for the so-called "Bone Wars" waged against Edward Drinker Cope. The two men were fiercely competitive, discovering and documenting more than 120 new species of dinosaur between them. Marsh eventually won the Bone Wars by finding 80 new species of dinosaur, while Cope only found 56.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Professor Marsh is Dead. The World-Famous Geologist Succumbs to Pneumonia. Chair of Paleontology Founded for Him. Caused the Establishment of Peabody Museum". New York Times. March 19, 1899. Retrieved 2010-07-28. Othniel C. Marsh, M.A., Ph.D., LL.D., professor of paleontology at Yale University, curator of the geological collection at the same institution, ...