Dinosaurs in the first half of the twentieth century

The first 60 years of the twentieth century brought about an expansion and consolidation of our basic understanding of dinosaurs and their diversity. Collecting, describing, and naming were the game, and our understanding of fundamental dinosaur morphology and diversity was dragged into a modern framework. In North America in the early years of the twentieth century, spectacular collections were made by Charles H. Sternberg along the Red Deer River in Alberta, Canada (Box 14.5). There he and his crews floated along the river in a mobile field camp, swatting mosquitoes and harvesting Upper Cretaceous dinosaurs from the sandstones and mudstones exposed in its banks. No less impressive were the efforts of the American Museum of Natural History's redoubtable Barnum Brown (Box 14.6), who, one summer in 1902, unearthed a large theropod that his sponsor, H. F. Osborne, dubbed Tyrannosaurus rex. For exotic and ill fated, however, none of this held a candle to Tendaguru, the richly fossilif-erous series of excavations in the then German colony of "German East Africa" (Tanzania) from which the world set eyes on the full magnificence of Brachiosaurus (Box 14.7). Dinosaur discoveries continued at a rapid rate, new names proliferated, skilled descriptions of the new material were written, but, from the standpoint of ideas, the field had largely stagnated.

These discoveries were carefully collected and described by a host of extraordinarily fine, dedicated paleontologists, including (in addition to those mentioned above) E. H. Colbert, W. Granger, C. W. Gilmore, J. B. Hatcher, L. M. Lambe, A. F. de Lapparent, R. S. Lull, W. D. Matthew, A. K. Rozhdestvensky, R. M. Sternberg, and C. C. Young. Each of these remarkable men made important contributions, and the full story of each would fill a book as long as this. It's really a shame that space keeps us from highlighting their lives and work. Yet no account of dinosaur paleontologists should omit the brilliant Baron Franz von Nopcsa -paleontologist, Albanian nationalist, polyglot, and spy for the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I (Box 14.8).

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