Nov 13 201404 BONE WARS!

Scientists are motivated by curiosity, by the desire to help their fellow humans, by compulsion and, sometimes, by irrational personal vendettas. Edward Drinker Cope and Othneil Charles Marsh were two leading paleontologists during the late 1800s, and discovered approximately 130 species between them, and were instrumental in confirming the then-new theory of evolution by natural selection. They also hated each other, and each tried to cut the other down to size with methods and tactics that simply would not fly in the scientific world today.

The 1897 painting below by Charles Knight is not at all a historically accurate depiction of dinosaurs, but it is amazing. It’s also apt. The art is called Leaping Laelaps, and uses Cope’s name for the dinosaur. The species was later renamed dryptosaurus, a name that Marsh gave it.

Laelops-Charles Knight-1896

Related links:

Cope’s backward elasmosaurus, with the head on the end of the tail.

A profile of Uintatherium, the prehistoric mammal discovered by Joseph Leidy, but claimed by both Marsh and Cope.

The World of Charles R. Knight is a website dedicated to the artist that briefly worked with Cope.