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Re: paleohistory



Judy, et al:

    The original fossils have been on display in the back of Dinosaur Hall
here at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.  They are labelled
_Megalonyx Jeffersonii_.  I can tell you that you can't see them right now,
as the hall is undergoing a reconstruction.  I don't know if they will be on
display at Dino Fest or not, they haven't told me.  (I expect to be
functioning as a Docent at the Dino Fest - I have no idea what sort of
schedule I will have)

    Allan Edels

-----Original Message-----
From: jamolnar@juno.com <jamolnar@juno.com>
To: dinosaur@usc.edu <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Date: Thursday, January 15, 1998 4:52 PM
Subject: paleohistory


>Lurking mode off....
>Some references on the recent discussion on early American paleontology:
>
>Bedini, Silvio A. 1985. _Thomas Jefferson and American Vertebrate
>Paleontology_.  Virginia Division of Mineral Resources Publication 61.
>Charlottesville, VA.
>
>Bedini, Silvio A. 1990. _Thomas Jefferson: Statesman of Science_.
>Macmillan Publishing Company, New York; also Collier Macmillan
>Publishers, London.
>
>Bedini, Silvio A. 1975. _Thinkers and Tinkers.  Early American Men of
>Science_. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.
>
>In the first publication cited, I recall (I hope accurately) that the
>first fossil described from North America was what we now call
>_Chesapecten jeffersonius_, the Jefferson Scallop, and the date was 1687.
> It was named after Jefferson long after its initial description. I'm
>home sick and the file is at work.
>
>The second reference describes the incident about the ground sloth claw
>in detail.  Jefferson did initially misidentify the bones as that of the
>cat family.  But when he traveled to Philadelphia in 1797 with the bones
>{for both his inauguration as Vice President and to deliver the bones to
>the American Philosophical Society}, he browsed a bookstore and found an
>article concerning Cuvier's description of the giant ground sloth
>_Megatherium_. The engraving of the skeleton in the article made
>Jefferson realize his error, and he revised his paper before submitting
>it to the Society, referring to the article and that the bones needed
>further study to truly identify them.
>
>Ironically, Jefferson had received a description and drawing of the
>_Megatherium_ back in 1789 by William Carmichael, the charge d'affaires
>in Madrid, and in the process of packing to come back to the US from his
>ambassadorship, Jefferson must have forgotten he'd read it or had it.
>Had he remembered the picture and description, he could have proceeded
>Cuvier in the identification and named & published first!  OOPS!
>
>Just another example of how politics can screw up the progression of
>science!
>
>Lurking mode on....
>Judy Molnar
>Education Associate, Virginia Living Museum
>vlmed@juno.com
>jamolnar@juno.com
>All questions are valid; all answers are tentative.
>