Library Highlights: The Birth of American Paleontology


“Nature intended me for the tranquil pursuits of science, by rendering them my supreme delight.”  –Thomas Jefferson, Letter To Monsieur DuPont de Nemours, Washington, March 2, 1809, in The Life and Selected Writings of Jefferson, at 595 (Adrienne Koch & William Peden, eds., 1944).

jefferson_and_scienceJefferson and Science
Silvio A. Bedini
E332.2 .B365 2002

From the Publisher: Though we most often think of Jefferson as president and statesman, he is also recognized, in the words of the late Dumas Malone, “as an American pioneer in numerous branches of science, notably paleontology, ethnology, geography, and botany.” In this fascinating book, Silvio Bedini, the acknowledged authority on Jefferson’s “supreme delight” in the sciences, explores his wideranging mathematical and scientific pursuits.  Read more

big_bone_lickBig Bone Lick: The Cradle of American Paleontology
Stanley Hedeen
QE705.U6 H43 2008

From the Publisher: On March 7, 1808, President Thomas Jefferson received a long-awaited shipment of approximately 300 fossils from William Clark, who had just completed his westward expedition with Meriwether Lewis. The fossils were unearthed at Big Bone Lick in northern Kentucky, and over the years they had gained the interest of such prominent figures as Daniel Boone, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin. Jefferson’s receipt of the fossils was the realization of more than twenty years of the philosopherstatesman’s interest in the site and its natural treasures.  Read more

legacy_mastodonThe Legacy of the Mastodon: The Golden Age of Fossils in America
Keith Thomson
QE882.P8 T46 2008

From the Publisher: The uncovering in the mid-1700s of fossilized mastodon bones and teeth at Big Bone Lick, Kentucky, signaled the beginning of a great American adventure. The West was opening up and unexplored lands beckoned. Unimagined paleontological treasures awaited discovery: strange horned mammals, birds with teeth, flying reptiles, gigantic fish, diminutive ancestors of horses and camels, and more than a hundred different kinds of dinosaurs.  Read more

tj_american_vertebrate_paleontologyThomas Jefferson and American Vertebrate Paleontology
Silvio A. Bedini
QE841 .B385 1985

From the Publisher: Thomas Jefferson first became interested in fossil vertebrate remains in about 1780 while governor of Virginia. He was largely responsible for popularizing the subject and for preserving many specimens that would have otherwise been lost. Jefferson’s contributions to vertebrate paleontology in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries are discussed.

american_monsterAmerican Monster: How the Nation’s First Prehistoric Creature Became a Symbol of National Identity
Paul Semonin
QE882.P8 S46 2000

From the Publisher: In 1801, the first complete mastodon skeleton was excavated in the Hudson River Valley, marking the climax of a century-long debate in America and Europe over the identity of a mysterious creature known as the American Incognitum. Long before the dinosaurs were discovered and the notion of geological time acquired currency, many citizens of the new republic believed this mythical beast to be a ferocious carnivore, capable of crushing deer and elk in its “monstrous grinders.” During the American Revolution, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson avidly collected its bones; for the founding fathers, its massive jaws symbolized the violence of the natural world and the emerging nation’s own dreams of conquest.  Read more

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s