[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]
Important dates of paleontological history
I've already posted here this kind of historical list. Now it's somewhat
improved (though not much) and I'd like to know your opinion. The list ends in
1842, when the name *Dinosauria* was firstly coined by Richard Owen. Also,
please excuse my bad english, I'm slowly working on it. As always, any comments
appreciated. Cheers, Vlad.
Important dates in paleontological history
Older Paleolite (Stone Age, app. 1.0 - 0.25 Ma ago) - for the first time in
history, Man (Homo erectus) is collecting fossils for aesthetic and perhaps
some practical purpose (from about 800.000 years ago?)
Middle Paleolite (Stone Age, app. 250.000-40.000 yrs ago) â Homo sapiens
still collects fossils, there are depots of fossilized shells dated to about
80.000-70.000 years ago. In some Burgund caves (France) similar depots of
fossilized mollusc shells collected 50.000 years ago have been found.
Neanderthals (H. s. neanderthalensis) were making necklaces from them.
Neolite (app. 8.000-5.000 BCE) - collections of fossilized fish and shark teeth
Bronze Age (app. 3.000-1.000 BCE) - another collection of shark teeth (extinct
*Precarcharodon*) on Malta.
3.000-2.000 BCE - travellers on the famous Silk road encountered dinosaur
fossils for the first time. Their reports gave rise to the old Babylonian myths
of Gryphon (or Griffon), Sirush and other mythical animals/ Cave printings of
animals making dinosaur tracks in SW Africa/ Indians living in western areas
underlain by mesozoic sedimentary rocks explained dinosaur bones as the remains
of former animals (also thought of large tertiary mammals, like *Uintatherium*,
as of "thunder horses").
16th Century BCE - in ancient China first mentions of dinosaur bones in medical
texts (thought of as âDragonâ bones).
1.000-500 BCE â ancient Greeks already knew fossils and even exhibited some
of them in their temples. Central nasal holes in skulls of prehistoric dwarf
elephants (_Elephas falconeri_) were the source for Homer's Cyclops. Some
also such source for legends of Giants, or giant animals (mammoth tusks gave
rise to a legend of giant boar).
Anaximander of Miletus (610-546 BCE), Xenophanes of Colophon (565-470 BCE) and
Empedocles of Acragas (492-432 BCE) were already speculating about fossils and
also collected them. They didnât have the right idea of their nature yet
300 BCE - first description of a dinosaur fossil appears in the book âHua
Yang Guo Zhiâ from chinese scholar Zhang Qu of Western Jin Dynasty. Qu
describes the find of a "dragon" (kong-long â âterrible dragonâ) bones in
Wucheng, current province of Sichuan (Some sources date this event also as 300
AD/CE). Villagers in central China have been digging up dinosaur bones for
decades, thinking they were from dragons, to make traditional medicine.
1st Century BCE - Hellene geographer and historian Strabon (ca. 64 BCE-19 CE)
discovers that nummulites are not âlensesâ, but remnants of former animals/
Emperror Augustus (63 BCE-14 CE, ruled 31 BCE-14CE) had a collection of large
fossil bones housed in his villa. He though they were remains of an extinct
race of humans related to the gods.
1st Century CE - Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE) assigned fossil shark teeth as
"tongue stones" (glossopetrae), thought as falling from the sky. He also gave
name to ammonites, according to the horns of egyptian god Amon.
414 - chinese buddhist monk Fa Hsien (ca. 337-422) mentions dinosaur bones from
the Gobi desert in writings from his travels ("The Record of Buddhist
5th Century - one of patres ecclesiae (Church Fathers), Aurelianus Augustus
(St. Augustine, 354-430) collected fossils, which he thought of as belonging to
some giant human race.
10th Century - now extinct Moa living in New Zealand gave rise to the tales of
a giant bird Rukh (Roc, or Noh) in famous Arabian nights./ Fossils of
phorurshracid _Titanis walleri_ were perhaps the base for indian tales of
14th Century - italian poet and writer Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375)
discovered some giant bones, which he though of as belonging to mythical
15th/16th Century - Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) is the first person in
history to understand the true nature of fossils. He never unveiled his correct
thoughts to the public.
1556 â swiss naturalist Konrad von (Conrad) Gessner (1516-1565) depicted all
then known fossils in his book, but he was far from understanding their true
1576 â first mention of a mamooth bones in the Czech city of Predmosti u
Prerova (dictionary âGramatica bohemicaâ).
1590 - medieval Europe was full of stories about dragons.
The head of a dragon sculptured by Ulrich Vogelsang for the city of Klagenfurt,
Austria was modeled on a "dragon skull" found by quarrymen in 1335. It is now
realised to become from an Ice Age wooly rhinoceros./ Mount Pilatus in
abounds in pterodactyl fossils, and with stories of fight between men and
dragonets - small, scrawny winged dragons. Dinosaur fossils were generally
believed to be the remains of giants and other creatures killed by the Great
1665 - german Jesuit scientist Athanasius Kircher (1601/2-1680) writes
"Underground world" (Mundus subterraneus), first printed work on geophysics and
vulcanology, he also mentions dragons and big lizzards in it.
1666 - danish anatomist and geologist Nicholaus Steno (1638-1686) realises that
"glossopetrae" are not serpent tongues turned to stone, but were instead teeth
that once belonged to sharks/ In about the same time british biologist Robert
Hooke (1635-1703) is the first person ever to examine fossils with a
microscope/ Both men already understood the process of fossilization.
1676/7 - first published record of a dinosaur bone (described as a giant human
(elephant?) thigh bone) by british vicar and professor of chemistry Robert Plot
(1640-1696), first custodian of the Old Ashmolean museum.
1699 - head keeper of the Ashmolean museum from 1690, Edward Lhuyd (1670-1709)
assignes name to cetiosaurid tooth, *Rutellum implicatum* (today, it's nomen
oblitum), this is first scientific name ever assigned to a dinosaur fossil.
1728 - first cataloguing of a dinosaur bone by John Woodward (1665-1728),
british naturalist, physician and geologist.
1763 - Richard Brooks reillustrates Plot's bone which he names *Scrotum
humanum* (as a descriptive appelation). In 1768 Jean Baptiste Robinet described
the specimen a real scrotum.
1770 - In Maastricht, Netherlands, giant skull of a mosasaur had been found. In
1795, during the Napoleonic wars, it was carried to Paris, where Georges Cuvier
(1769-1832) examined it. In 1828, he finally described it as _Mosasaurus
1784 â first discovery of pterosaurs (later described as Pterodactylus) in
1787 - thigh bone of a dinosaur found in New Jersey, USA.
1795, 21st January - giant bones were found in France. Cuvier examined them,
concluded it was from an elephant, brought here by the Romans.
1802/3 - discovery of fossilized tracks with 31 cm long footprints by Pliny
Moody in New England. One set of footprints thought of as to be from biblical
1806 â famous Lewis and Clark expedition finds dinosaur bones near Billings,
1809 - Iguanodon bones found in Cuckfield, Great Britain, by the famous
geologist William Smith (1769-1839).
1811 - Mary Anning (1799-1847), later "fossil lady" finds first ichthyosaur in
Lyme Regis, South England.
1815 â british geologist William Smith published the first geologic map of
England, which formed the basis of biostratigraphy.
1818 - first dinosaur skeleton found in USA (likely that of a prosauropod
1819 - british surgeon and paleontologist Gideon Algernon Mantell (1790-1852)
mentions fossils of Iguanodon (as "Proteo-saurus"). âOfficiallyâ, he found
them in 1822.
1823 - first fossilized coprolite found by rev. William Buckland (1784-1856),
1824, February 20th - world's first description of a recognized dinosaur fossil
(although the term "dinosaur" didn't exist yet) by rev. William Buckland during
his lecture (theropod Megalosaurus)
1825 1st May - in his work "Fossils of the South Downs" G. A. Mantell describes
ornithopod Iguanodon (second dinosaur genus ever to be described).
1832/3 - G. A. Mantell describes Hylaeosaurus, third dinosaur genus to be
described, these three genera are mentioned as dinosaurs in Richard Owen's
(1804-1892) 1842 work (before this event also Streptospondylus-1830(?),
Plateosaurus-1837, Poekilopleuron-1838, Laelaps=Dryptosaurus-1839 and
Cetiosaurus-1841/2 were described, but also "Ceratops"-1815 and
1830/33 â sir Charles Lyell (1797â1875) published âPrinciples in
Geologyâ in three volumes, this marks the basis of geology.
1836 - american naturalist Edward B. Hitchcock (1793-1864) reported the
discovery of tracks of what he believed were giant birds from late Triassic
deposits of the Connecticut Valley. The tracks were first found by Pliny Moody
back in 1802/3.
1841 2nd September - british scientist Richard Owen on his lecture teaches
about primeval reptiles, still not using name Dinosauria for Megalosaurus,
Iguanodon and Hylaeosaurus.
1842 - the same scientist names Megalosaurus, Iguanodon and Hylaeosaurus
dinosaurs â members of the group *Dinosauria* (fearfully great lizzards).