Owen and his dinosaur fossil scientific research

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Owen and his dinosaur fossil scientific research

Owen s fame grew steadily through the 1840s and 1850s, and he became involved in the committees associated with the planning of the relocated Great Exhibition of 1854. Animatronic dinosaur It is a curious fact that Owen, for all his burgeoning fame, was not first choice as the scientific director for the construction of the dinosaurs – Gideon Mantell was. Mantell refused on the grounds of persistent ill-health, and also because he was exceedingly wary of the risks associated with popularizing scientific work, particularly the risk of misrepresentating imperfectly developed ideas.

 

Mantell’s story ended in tragedy: his obsession with fossils and the development of a personal museum led to the collapse of his medical practice, Dinosaur costume and his family disintegrated (his wife left him and his surviving children emigrated once they were old enough to leave home).  animatronic mammoth for sale The diary that he kept for much of his life makes melancholy reading; in his final years he was left lonely and racked by chronic back pain, and he died of a self-administered overdose of laudanum.

 

Although outflanked by the ambitious, brilliant, and crucially full-time, scientist Owen, Mantell spent much of the last decade of his life continuing research on ‘his’ Iguanodon. Animatronic animal He produced a series of scientific articles and extremely popular books summarizing many of his new discoveries, and he was the first to realize (in 1851) that Owen’s vision of the dinosaurs (or at least Iguanodon) as stout ‘elephantine reptiles’ was probably wrong. Further discoveries of jaws with teeth, and further analysis of the partial skeleton (the ‘Mantel-piece’), revealed that Iguanodon had strong back legs and smaller, weaker front limbs. As a result, he concluded that its posture may have had much more in common with the ‘upright’ reconstructions of giant ground sloths (paradoxically inspired by Owen’s detailed description of the fossil ground sloth Mylodon). Unfortunately, this work was overlooked, largely because of the excitement and publicity surrounding Owen’s Crystal Palace dinosaur models. The truth of Mantell’s suspicions, and the strength of his own intellect, were not to be revealed for a further 30 years, and through another amazing piece of serendipity.