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Random Details About The Bone Wars: Feud That Created And Almost Destroyed Paleontology

  • Marsh Often Used Bribes To Obtain Fossils on Random Details About The Bone Wars: Feud That Created And Almost Destroyed Paleontology

    (#12) Marsh Often Used Bribes To Obtain Fossils

    Othniel Charles Marsh’s strategy to win the Bone Wars was usually rather simple—he used his financial backing to outbid Edward Drinker Cope by any means necessary. In fact, Marsh became so well-known for his use of bribery that others in the fossil trade began to use it against him. When some Union Pacific Railroad employees in Como Bluff, WY, discovered a treasure trove of fossils in the late 1870s, they contacted Marsh with an offer to sell, but (falsely) hinted that they were also negotiating with Cope—causing Marsh to pony up some extra-generous terms.

  • The Bone Wars Began With A Simple Case Of Bribery on Random Details About The Bone Wars: Feud That Created And Almost Destroyed Paleontology

    (#6) The Bone Wars Began With A Simple Case Of Bribery

    Joseph Leidy, a respected paleontologist and mentor to Edward Cope, discovered the first American dinosaur, a Hadrosaurus, in Haddonfield, NJ, in 1856. The Bone Wars began more than a decade later when Cope joined the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences and began fossil-hunting at the same site by proxy—paying workers to dig up bones and send them to him. Othniel Marsh visited Haddonfield in 1868, and was so impressed with the fossils there that he bribed some of the workers to send any interesting finds his way instead of to Cope. When Cope found out, he was furious, and the Bone Wars had begun.

  • Thumb of The Bone Wars Were Largely Conducted By Secret Paleontology Agents Traveling Across The Country video

    (#4) The Bone Wars Were Largely Conducted By Secret Paleontology Agents Traveling Across The Country

    Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope often worked in the field early in their careers, but the majority of the Bone Wars were conducted through proxies. Both Marsh and Cope sent agents, some of whom included their students, across America to find dig sites and procure the best fossils available. These agents were also tasked with obscuring their actions from the other side and attempting to stay one step ahead of their rivals. Marsh’s superior financial means and looser morals allowed his agents to frequently gain an edge through outright bribery, but Cope also engaged in his fair share of shady activity.

  • Letters Published By Cope In 1890 Destroyed Marsh's Reputation For Good on Random Details About The Bone Wars: Feud That Created And Almost Destroyed Paleontology

    (#9) Letters Published By Cope In 1890 Destroyed Marsh's Reputation For Good

    Incensed that Othniel Marsh had still tried to rob him of his fossils despite his destitution, Edward Drinker Cope set out to destroy his rival once and for all. Congress had opened an investigation of the U.S. Geological Survey and their potentially illegal activities in 1884, and in 1890, Cope published a meticulously-documented list of his rival’s many misdeeds—including bribery and other outright felonies. Much of this information had been gleaned through Cope’s paranoid habit of hiring individuals who had worked for Marsh in the past and pumping them for dirt on their former boss.

    Not only was Marsh asked to resign, but his own lack of records proved his ultimate undoing in an ironic twist. Marsh had kept few records of who had paid for his massive fossil collection, which meant that—according to the law he himself created in an attempt to strike at Cope—his collection belonged to the Smithsonian. Marsh lost a large portion of his fossils, and Cope had the last laugh in the decades-long Bone Wars.

  • At One Point, Marsh And Cope Were Good Enough Friends That They Named Dinosaurs After One Another on Random Details About The Bone Wars: Feud That Created And Almost Destroyed Paleontology

    (#7) At One Point, Marsh And Cope Were Good Enough Friends That They Named Dinosaurs After One Another

    Although Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope became lifelong rivals in the field of paleontology, they started their professional relationship on friendlier terms. The two met while studying abroad in Berlin in 1864 and were apparently rather impressed with one another. Early in their fossil-hunting careers, both Cope and Marsh named species after one another.

    The two were likely too different to forge a lasting friendship, though. Marsh grew up poor and received a generous inheritance from his uncle to fund his career. He believed in Darwinism and had an attention to detail inspired by his modest upbringing. Cope, on the other hand, came from a wealthy family and had a looser, flashier approach to his research. He supported Neo-Lamarckism and became a professor despite little formal education.

  • Eventually, Agents Weren’t Enough And The Paleontologists Hired Dinosaur Rustlers on Random Details About The Bone Wars: Feud That Created And Almost Destroyed Paleontology

    (#5) Eventually, Agents Weren’t Enough And The Paleontologists Hired Dinosaur Rustlers

    As the intensity of the Bone Wars picked up, the pair started to hire dinosaur rustlers to gain an advantage over the other. At the hotly-contested area of Como Bluff, WY, Cope hired a prospector to steal bones from Marsh’s dig site. This became standard practice, with dinosaur rustlers thieving fossils, spying on excavations, and even pelting rival workers with stones. On at least one occasion, guns were brandished and the Bone Wars threatened to turn into a real war, but cooler heads prevailed, and the bloodshed remained purely theoretical.

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Bone Wars occurred in the late 19th century, two famous paleontologists competed with each other to discover more and more famous new dinosaurs. This fierce and notorious competition involves bribery, politics, violence in Native American territories, and personal assaults. They achieved great success but also damaged the reputation of paleontology with many misconducts.

The competition between them has lasted for 30 years, and they had a significant impact on paleontology, but many fossils have been destroyed and many important fossils may have disappeared from the earth. The random tool explained 16 facts about the Bone Wars here.

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