Written in Stone
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The scaly representatives of the recently described and soon to be named Dinosauria threatened to overshadow the Missourium.
Written in Stone!
So Koch played up the might and size of his ancient pachyderm. A broadside poster proclaimed:.
This unparalleled Gigantic remains, when its huge frame was clad with its peculiar fibrous integuments, and when moved by its appropriate muscles, was Monarch over all the Animal Creation; the Mammoth, and even the mighty Iguanodon may easily have crept between his legs. Such fanfare did not deceive British naturalists.
Even though the Missourium was greeted with enthusiasm by some members of the London scientific elite, in the anatomist Richard Owen pointed out the spare ribs and vertebrae that his American colleagues had previously noticed. Koch passionately defended his reconstruction before the Geological Society, but the British scholars were not convinced.
In the wake of this controversy, Koch took the skeleton on tour elsewhere in Europe, yet the London scientists had not entirely soured on Missourium. This was enough to enroll the Koch children in a school in Dresden, Germany, while the palaeontologist and his wife travelled the European continent. By , however, Koch was itching to head back into the field to rebuild his collection.
A fossil-hunting trip through the United States would be just the thing, and as soon as Koch arrived in New England he started prospecting the local outcrops for choice specimens.
Written in Stone by Brian Switek – book review | Tim Radford | Science | The Guardian
When Koch stopped in New Haven, Connecticut, to visit Silliman on 17 August, he had his entire array of fossil treasures in tow. Silliman was impressed with what his friend had already accumulated, but he knew of another place where there were even more impressive bones to be found.
In parts of southern Alabama, local residents had found the abundant remains of an enormous sea-serpent, and Silliman knew a woman who could tell Koch where to chisel his own sea monster from the rock. They went off to meet her at once. If Koch could obtain these remains then he would surely have a new attraction unrivalled by any other.
With directions to the monster graveyard in hand Koch soon continued on his way through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri, picking up fossils as he went.
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He finally reached Alabama on 20 January , but the fossils he sought proved elusive. It would be another month before he would first catch sight of them, and they would not be in the place he expected. On 14 February, Koch was on his way to meet an acquaintance in Macon County when he spotted an enormous, charred vertebra lying in a fireplace.
It could only have come from the sea serpent.
When he asked about the scorched bone, Koch was told that it had been used for nearly three years as a fireplace support, and this was only one of the ways in which the plentiful fossils were regularly destroyed. All he got for his trouble were burnt bones that crumbled to pieces. Since Mesopotamia was almost entirely lacking in stone, the stones themselves were imported and were highly valued, even as raw materials. These inscribed stone objects reflect humanity's enduring desire to leave a permanent record of its existence and accomplishments.
The collapse of the Assyrian and Babylonian civilizations and collateral loss of their languages, scripts, and innovations in the arts, sciences, religion, and statecraft was so complete that these achievements were obliterated for ages. Since the s it was recognized that cuneiform held important secrets; by the s the script was finally deciphered.go
Written in Stone by Brian Switek – book review
The study of these tablets continues to be the subject of serious scholarly pursuit. This installation is made possible by a generous gift from Jeannette and Jonathan P.
Skip to main content. Unless otherwise indicated, all objects are from the Morgan's collection.