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Pauline Carpenter Dear's Owen papers & Hugh Torrens: a question of content

   In the interest of historical accuracy, I would
like to point out a literary coincidence.
   In a previous note for this forum, I gave the
bibliographical data for Pauline Carpenter Dear's two
papers on Richard Owen, the 1984 paper being the
recipient of the Henry and Ida Schuman Prize. She
revised this paper in 1986, during this time visiting
Cambridge and investigating  thoroughly the 1841/1842
Owen activities (as late as 23 December 1841, Owen had
been at the Cambridge museum, examining specimens) and
the newspaper accounts of Owen's 2 August 1841 talk at
    Allow me to add three other citations:
    Hugh Torrens, 1992. When did the dinosaur get its
name? New Scientist 134 [# 1815, 4 April]:40-44
    Hugh Torrens, 1993. The dinosaurs and dinomania
over 150 years. Modern Geology 18(2):257-286, esp.
273-274 [this was an emended, revised version of his
28 August 1991 BAAS talk at Plymouth, Devonshire]
    Hugh Torrens, 1997. Politics and paleontology:
Richard Owen and the invention of dinosaurs. In: J.O.
FARLOW & M. BRETT-SURMAN 1997:175-190
    The Torrens papers are excellent iterations of the
paths Owen took in formulating Dinosauria in the
winter months of ca. December 1841/February 1842. And
yet, in none of these papers does Mr Torrens
acknowledge his debt to Mrs Dear's 1986 paper Richard
Owen invents the dinosaurs: Cuverian paleontological
practice in Britain.
    I would like to point out that, in 1986, Mrs
Dear's paper presents her research discoveries, data
she did not know in 1984 for her richly deserved
Schuman Prize paper. Beginning on page 21, Mrs Dear
outlines how, in 1855, Richard Owen published an
account of how he originally formulated the name
Dinosauria, stating how dissatisfied he was with
Mantell's analyses of Iguanodon. Owen writes: But the
confirmation of the ideas, and resolution of the
question thus suggested, dependend on or at least
rendered very desireable, the detection of
corresponding modifications of other parts of the
vertebral column, and especially of that part [the
sacrum] which more immediately transferred the weight
of the hinder parts of the trunk and tail upon
the...enormously developed hind limbs.
    Because of this, Owen says, he searched for years
for an Iguanodon sacrum, finding one in the Saull
collection (now BMNH 37685). He states it had five
fused sacrals, as in Megalosaurus, and lo! Dinosauria
was formulated. This was revisionist nonsense (as
Kevin Padian documented in his YPM dissertation on
Owen's pterosaur specimens, Owen was not above
falsifying data to suit his purposes). 
    It is here where Mr Torrens owes a public debt to
Pauline Carpenter Dear's historical research. She
states that Owen never used the word "dinosaur" or
"Dinosauria" in his 1841 talk, that it first appeared
in the revised, published BAAS report published in
1842. How did she know this? Simply put, she went to
newspaper microfilms, and discovered that The Literary
Gazette, a weekly newspaper devoted to
science/culture, gave a detailed account of Owen's
1841 talk, "so detailed", she writes, "in fact, there
are places where it matches the final published
version word for word". This was published on 14
August (and is worth perusing, even now). (Martin
Rudwick's 1985 The great Devonian controversy
correctly notes that the BAAS reports were published
in revised forms and are never reliable indicators of
what happened.)
    In some detail, Mrs Carpenter discusses the
changes from the 1841 mss. to the 1842 published
version, changes made from either vertebrae from
Mantell's collection at BMNH, or from the dinosaur
specimens of Mr. J. Devonshire Saull, F.G.S. OF
Aldersgate Street, London. The Saull specimens were
examined by Owen AFTER the 1841 talk, and it on the
basis of these specimens Owen expanded the crocodilian
pages. The Dinosauria was at once a cunning erection
of a name guaranteed to capture "public fancy" over
Mantell's "age of reptiles", so that Owen's dreams of
a museum would have the word "dinosaur" linked to it,
and in the 1842 report's concluding pages, a
denunciation of Robert Grant's "transmutation"
concepts. Thus, as Mrs Dear points out, Dinosauria was
the result of post-1841 ruminations. Owen, e.g., added
a last-minute footnote pointing to the relationship of
dinosaur double-headed ribs and respiration of the
dinosaurs as paralleling mammalian anatomy, something
he had not mentioned before. Owen had examined the
Megalosaurus sacrum at Oxford, noting its fused
vertebrate before August 1841, but did not find a
parallel condition in Iguanodon until after August
1841. While examining the Mantell collection, Owen
(understandably frustrated with Mantell's haphazard
catalogues) found 127/2127, an unfused sacral centrum
Mantell believed to be from a juvenile Iguanodon.
After his 1841 speech, he found an adult Iguanodon
sacrum in the Saull collection, its five centra
matching the single centra in the Mantell collection,
and having similar displaced foramina as in the
Megalosaurus centrum. 
    It was at this point that Owen made a functional
as well as morphological distinction with these
dinosaur fragments, because he assigned a sacrum of
five fused vertebrae to Hylaeosaurus. Like Cuvier,
Owen discerned functionality, from this erecting
Dinosauria. He reduced their size (in the case of
Iguanodon and Megalosaurus coming fairly close to the
sizes of the animals he was examining, establishing 
more realistic measurements than Mantell's 200 feet+
gargantuans), although in every other instance
(stance, locomotion, metabolism) he was wrong, albeit
in not having specimens to examine (these would come
from Marsh discoveries).
   I should like to point out that Mrs. Dear's
original research, her discoveries of The Literary
Gazette's reports, the other newspapers, etc., are
recapitulated (albeit in greater detail) by Hugh
Torrens who, frankly, was indebted to both Adrian
Desmond and Mrs Dear. He acknowledges, in his 1992 and
1993 papers, Mr Desmond, but not Mrs Dear. 
    Mrs Dear, an excellent historian, carefully
examined 34 scientific periodicals from 1841-1845,
finding only 6 references to dinosaurs, 3 being
translations of the other 3, two of the references not
even mentioning Owen. Louis Agassiz, in England during
this period, gave credit for the name to Francois
Pictet's 1844 Traite elementaire de paleontologie,
where dinosaurs are a family of Sauria. It was in
Mantell's 1844 The Medals of Creation where Owen is
first given credit (they also appear in Chambers's
Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation), and one
reads Mantell with some sadness, considering the
savagery with which Owen had vilified him. Owen had
used Mantell's original analyses as a basis of
attacking both Mantell and Grant. Mantell, on 28
August 1841, had written a protesting letter to The
Literary Gazette, privately believing Owen was guilty
of "unworthy piracy and ingratitude". But, on 11
October 1841, Mantell was injured in a carriage
accident and partially paralyzed, his plans to
capitalize on his 1841 A Memoir on the fossil reptiles
of south-east England constrained. The Mantell
publication did, however, spur Owen's germinating
   In his 1997 paper for the Farlow/Brett-Surman
compendium, Mr Torrens expands somewhat further,
citing the six publications Mrs Dear had uncovered,
and elaborating in greater detail data Mrs Dear could
not present in an oral presentation. As in 1992 and
1993, Mr Torrens does not acknowledge in 1997 Mrs
Dear's two papers (he had one, perhaps both, in his
files at the University of Keele prior to his
   Ironically, as Mrs Dear points out (and other
scholars such as Kevin Padian have illustrated), is
that, for all of his bombast, Owen after 1842 rarely
returned to the dinosaurs, living long enough to see
Marsh's discoveries and Dollo's magnificent
Iguanodons, but in the main remaining silent.Perhaps,
having served their polemical role, Owen's Dinosauria
held no further interest for him.  And yet, in Owen's
papers, even when his interpolations are stilted by
our present, phylogenetic systematics standards, I
still sense (as does Mrs Dear) that Owen was
interested in living, breathing, functioning animals,
an almost ecological metaphysics (if one will forgive
the simile)lacking in the hurried, "cold" formulations
of O.C. Marsh, Thomas Huxley, and E.D. Cope, all of
whom abandoned the Cuvier/Owen concepts of function in
favour of morphology, classification, and phylogeny.
   Mrs Pauline Carpenter Dear should be noted in all
future historical analyses of those 1841/1842 years.

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