Have you ever wondered what it might be like to be an explorer, discovering new places or buried secrets of the past? In paleontology, scientists dig up and study fossil remains of dinosaurs and many other types of creatures. During the 1800s, discoveries of different types of dinosaur bones in North America started to make fossils a very exciting part of science. American dinosaur discovery became extra exciting when two of the leading paleontologists of the time ended up working against each other in a bitter, head-to-head competition, sometimes called “Dinosaur Wars”. It was Edward Cope vs. Othniel Marsh. Things got pretty crazy, sometimes even to the point of blowing up a dinosaur dig site, stealing fossils, or giving the same dinosaur two or three different names.
Most fossils found in rock layers, like dinosaur fossils, are from creatures that were buried by Noah’s flood, just about 4,500 years ago. While many people may say that dinosaurs are “millions of years old”, there are a lot of problems with this – for example, blood cells that cannot last anywhere near that long have been found in dinosaur bones. Most importantly, the Bible says that ALL land animals (including dinosaurs) were created on the same day as people
Edward Cope grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where his family had plenty of property and large gardens to explore. He loved animals and was good at art from an early age. Edward was a little bit of a spoiled kid, who sometimes let his temper get the best of him. He had to quit formal school fairly early, but had a passion for science. Edward loved writing and got his first science paper published when he was just 18 years old. Even though he only lived to the age of 56, he published over 1,400 papers, which is more than most other scientists throughout history. Edward wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty digging up fossils. He also made friends with Ferdinand Hayden, who explored the Rocky Mountains and helped make Yellowstone a National Park. Knowing Hayden, who had traveled all over western America, would later help Edward find dinosaur fossils
Othniel Marsh (his name is pronounced “Awth-knee-ull”) grew up on a farm in New York state where he loved to explore and learned about nature. Seeing how much Othniel loved science, his millionare uncle took him to the city and sent him to all the best colleges. He made friends with John Powell, who explored the Grand Canyon by traveling down the Colorado River. Knowing Powell would later help him find dinosaur fossils. Othniel didn’t really go out on digs much, instead he usually hired people to dig the fossils for him.
Edward Cope and Othniel Marsh were friends when they first met. Later, things got a little tense between them, but the first real explosion happened over a plesiosaur (water creature) fossil. Cope had a bunch of vertebrae from a plesiosaur that he was putting together when he accidentally put the tail where the head should be and the head where the tail should be. Putting the bones of an animal back together is no easy thing to do – it’s a lot like a puzzle, and just like you can sometimes “make” the wrong puzzle piece fit, you can also “make” a fossil fit in the wrong place. Marsh pointed out Cope’s mistake, making sure people knew that Cope was wrong. Cope wasn’t too happy about this and the great “Dinosaur Wars” between them started.
Vertebrae (said like “ver-ta-bray”) are the sections of bone that stack together to make your spine, supporting your back, head, and most everything else in the body. They also let us bend and twist. If you run your fingers along your spine, you can feel bumps that are your vertebrae.
Cope and Marsh really didn’t like each other from that point until they died, bitterly and brutally racing to discover more fossils than the other. Their teams spied on each other, stole fossils, and accused the other person of stealing fossils. Sometimes one team would even use dynamite to blow up a dig site and destroy the fossils before the other team could get to them. In the end, they both destroyed their own lives. Though they didn’t always do everything right and scientifically, their “Dinosaur War” helped jump-start paleontology in North America.
“Brontosaurus” is not considered a real dinosaur name anymore. In the rush to find & name dinosaurs, Marsh put the head of a “Camarasaurus” on the bones of a creature he had already named “Apatoaurus”. These are all different types of long-necked, heavy-footed dinosaurs like “Behemoth” mentioned in Job 40 in the Bible
Are there times when you find it difficult to get along with another person? There will be people who grind on your nerves and say the wrong thing at the wrong time. But, just like sandpaper can grind off the rough, splinted parts of wood, you can let those “sandpaper” people grind away your rough areas. Don’t get caught up in always “getting back” at people, like Cope & Marsh. The Bible says that “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” – Proverbs 15:1
For Your Information . . .
CCK is written by Sara J. Bruegel. Many thanks to Eva Haley (age 12) for her cartoon. If you have a question, comment, cartoon, or drawing about God’s creation that you would like to share, please write to Sara at: CreationCluesForKids@gmail.com and it may get published in the next issue. Also, you can visit www.CreationClues.com to read a new clue each week or read & print past issues of CCK.
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Copyright Sara J. Bruegel, January2016
This is the January – March Issue – Vol. 5 No. 1