race for dinosaurs
The luminaries of American paleontology Charles Otniel Marsh and Edward Drink Cope were friends first. They began to dig together and even named several fossil species after each other. But then the friendship ended and the war began, which was called the "bone war" or "the great race for dinosaurs"
The starting point in the “Bone War” was the clash over pterodactyls. On March 1, 1872, Edward Cope presented to the scientific community a report on two skeletons of flying reptiles, which he proposed to assign to the Ornithochirus genus (the Greek word Ornithocheirus, bird-winged, mistakenly written by a talented self-taught).
Inaccurate reconstruction of P. brevirostris by Semmering, 1817
The fate of the flying dinosaurs was not simple and before the disputes between Cope and Marsh: their lineage was covered with darkness and gave the ground to many speculation in the XIX century. The German paleontologist Semmering in the 1810s changed his bones in some places in reconstruction (for example, his forearm with metacarpal bones, and the scapula - with the sternum) and considered him a bat.
Other scientists drew him flippers and settled in the depths of the sea. One of the samples of the skeleton of the representative of this genus, found in the late 1770s, was initially attributed to crustaceans. Against this background, the cause of the blood feud between Marsh and Cope looks ridiculous: Marsh also decided to describe this find, and he managed to outrun Cope’s official report about her in print for five days. As a result, Marsh, who attributed the finds to the genus Pterodactylus, which he had recently discovered, received the title assignment title, as reported by the American Journal of Science.
A 1830 Wagler reconstruction depicting floating pterodactyl
A real war broke out, the main weapons of which were picks and publications: the passionate and energetic self-taught naturalist Cope found and described the species at an amazing speed, and the methodical and corrosive professor at Yale University Marsh noticed all his blunders. It seemed that each of the rivals would rather blow up the rock rich in fossil bones rather than yield to its rival. This confrontation led to the description of many new taxa of dinosaurs: celophysis, Allosaurus, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus and others.
The confrontation escalated when Congress accused the patron of Marsh John Powell, director of the US Geological Survey, of embezzlement. The scientist himself came under suspicion, but they still managed to justify themselves. But Cope could not refrain from revenge on the enemy who was going through hard times, telling the New York Herald about the history of their conflicts. The note under the heading "Scientists entered into fierce enmity" infuriated Marsh, and the answer did not make him wait long.
I really waited in my hour for a truly marine (unlike pterodactyl) elasmosaur of twenty years ago. Despite the fact that Cope’s mistake was indicated in Lady’s publication in 1870, Marsh didn’t deny himself the pleasure of planting the long-suffering head of the aquatic reptile to its proper place with loud accusations against his enemy. The article was published in the same The New York Herald on January 20, 1890, and Charles attached to it a copy of the publication he carefully kept all these years with an error that he managed to buy before Cope destroyed the print run. The answer was the publication of Cope, starting with the Latin “peccavi” (“I have sinned”), indicating the work of Leydi, who first wrote about the error.
This round (as well as the pterodactyl round) was won by Marsh. He also emerged victorious from the Bone Wars as a whole, describing 86 dinosaur species against 56 species in Cope, although the latter published five times more scientific articles and described a total of about 600 fossil species, including mammals, amphibians and fish. However, the battles undermined the health and condition of both enemies: in 1897, Edward died of intestinal disease (he was 56 years old), and two years later, at the age of 67, Charles also died.
The irony of fate is that many years after the death of both warriors, their case still lives, recalling that they worked, in essence, on the same thing. Nowadays, two related bird-eating dinosaurs, a drinker (the only described species is Drinker nisti) and otnielya Rex (described by Marsh himself as Laosaurus consors in 1894) are generic after sworn enemies.