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Re: Augustus' dinosaur bones

In a message dated 96-06-24 11:38:43 EDT, PESELYG@APSU01.APSU.EDU writes:

>Suetonius is certainly emphasizing the
>immense size of the bones, which may or may not have included bones
>of marine animals, but there is nothing in his description to show
>that any of these bones need have been dinosaur bones.  They
>may have included dinosaur bones, but they could also be from
>extinct mammals...Suetonius' description is not precise enough
>to tell.

This is why it is proper to insist on the earliest >scientific< description,
not just a historical reference to "large" bones. Without a scientific
description, preferably illustrated, there is no way to be sure that the
large bones were those of dinosaurs, or whether they were even fossilized.
This goes for the numerous references to "dragon bones" in Chinese medical
literature, which could have been whale bones, mammoth bones, or even
baluchithere bones, although we can be reasonably sure that fossilized
dinosaur bones were a component of Chinese "dragon bones."

As far as I know, the earliest >scientific< description of a dinosaur bone
was that of Robert Plot, 1676 or 1677, in _The Natural History of
Oxford-shire, being an essay toward the natural history of England_. This is
the famous fragment, now lost, that became the "type" specimen of _Scotum
humanum_. Plot also recorded another dinosaur bone or two in his essay, one
recovered from the Great Fire of London in 1666.