The most notorious scientific feud in history


After the California Gold Rush of 1848, white settlers streamed West to strike it rich. In addition to precious metal, they unearthed another treasure, Dinosaur Burns. Two wealthy scientists, in particular of Neil Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker. Cope, competed to uncover these prehistoric monsters. Marsh and Cope were first to describe iconic creatures like Brontosaurus, triceratops, and Stegosaurus, but they also showcased the destructive whirlwind of profiteering and ambition that fueled American science during the late 18 hundreds.

Their rivalry, one of the most notorious scientific feuds in history, became known as the Both Wars. Marsh was ill tempered and had a knack for debunking falsehoods. One woman said that getting to know him was like running against a Pitchfork. Cope, on the other hand, was charismatic and given to bold theorizing, but he was also sarcastic and temperamental. By his own admission, he wasn't constructed for getting along comfortably with the general run of people.

When Marsh and Cope first met in 1864, they were friendly and each named a new species in the other's honor, but their relationship soon sour. In 1868, Cope took Marsh to a quarry near his home in New Jersey, where one of the most complete dinosaur skeletons to date had recently been discovered. Sensing an opportunity, Marsh paid the mine operators to send him the most interesting new finds. Outraged, Cope accused Marsh of bribery. That same year, Cope showed Marsh his reconstruction of a new marine reptile called Elasmosaurus.

Marsh immediately noticed that something was wrong. Cope had mistaken the creature's long neck for its tail. When Cope's mentor sided with Marsh, Cope was mortified. He tried to buy and destroy every copy of the article containing his blunder, but to no avail. Their mutual resentment blossom.

After the Transcontinental Railroad was completed the following year, Cope and Marsh began scouring the American West for fossils. They found riches the likes of which neither had dreamed. Relying on the health of Native American American guides, Marsh made some especially significant discoveries, like ancient birds with teeth that are still celebrated as a missing link between dinosaurs and modern birds. Cope made important discoveries, too, but Marsh successfully invalidated many of them, showing them to be redundant with other known species. In rage, Cope tried to secure priority for new findings by announcing them via Telegram.

He even purchased a respected Journal so future publications could be rushed into print. But Marsh used his personal fortune to gain the upper hand, hiring a small Army of fossil hunters to outcompete his rivals. In 18 78, Marsh bought an especially promising quarry in Como Bluff, Wyoming, from two frontier collected. It yielded tons of fossils, including the near complete skeleton of a gigantic dinosaur that Marsh named Brontosaurus. Over the next 10 years, his men shipped him more than 480 boxes of dinosaur bones from Como alone, Marsh named dozens of new species, but his assistants could be ruthless in their quest to further Marsh's scientific ambitions.

They sometimes destroyed fossils just to prevent them from falling into Cope's hands. Desperate to catch up with Marsh, Cope invested his dwindling fortune into silver mining. The gamble failed, and he was left nearly destitute. While Cope contemplated selling his precious collection, Marsh was named lead paleontologist for the Us Geological Survey. This wellfunded branch of the government often sponsored westward expeditions, giving Marsh even more resources to vanquish his rival.

The Bone Wars spilled into public view. When Cope had a tabloid newspaper published an article accusing Marsh of plagiarism fraud and corruption, Marsh fired back, and the two further tarnished each other's reputation. Neither ever relented. When Cope died, he donated his skull to science, hoping to prove that his brain was larger than that of his enemy. Marsh never accepted the challenge.

Although Marsh named more species than Coke, both men greatly expanded our understanding of evolution, but their egotistical one upmanship reminds us that in spite of its ideals, science is a personal enterprise conducted by individual and at times deeply flawed human beings. Cope and Marsh are far from history's only scientific rivals. In 19 10, 2 explorers competed to reach the last unmapped region on Earth, the South Pole. Who would prove victorious join the dangerous journey to find out with this video.

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