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The Bone Wars is the name given to a period of intense fossil speculation and discovery during the Gilded Age of American history, marked by a heated rivalry between Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh. Each of the two paleontologists used underhanded methods to out-compete the other in the field, resorting to bribery, theft, and destruction of bones. The scientists also attacked each other in scientific publications, attempting to ruin the other's credibility and cut off his funding. Originally colleagues who were civil to each other, Cope and Marsh became bitter enemies after several personal slights between them. Their pursuit of bones led them west to rich bone beds in Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming. From 1877 to 1892, both paleontologists used their wealth and influence to finance their own expeditions and to procure services and fossils from dinosaur hunters. By the end of the Bone Wars, both men exhausted their funds in fueling their intense rivalry. Cope and Marsh were financially and socially ruined by their efforts to disgrace each other, but their contributions to science and the field of paleontology were massive; the scientists left behind tons of unopened boxes of fossils on their deaths. The feud between the two men led to over 142 new species of dinosaurs being discovered and described. (Read more...)


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Paul Sereno is an American paleontologist who is the discoverer of several new dinosaur species on several continents. He has conducted excavations at sites as varied as Inner Mongolia, Argentina, Morocco and Niger. He is a professor at the University of Chicago and a National Geographic "explorer-in-residence." Sereno's most widely publicized discovery is that of a nearly complete specimen of Sarcosuchus imperator (popularly known as SuperCroc) at Gadoufaoua in the Tenere desert of Niger. Other major discoveries include Eoraptor - the oldest known dinosaur fossil, Jobaria, the first good skull of Carcharodontosaurus iguidensis, Afrovenator, Suchomimus and the African pterosaur. (Read more...)

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"The utility [of the sail] is difficult to imagine. Unless the animal had aquatic habits and swam on its back, the crest or fin must have been in the way of active movements."
Edward Drinker Cope, 1886, in the American Naturalist, "The Long-Spined Theromorpha of the Permian Epoch", in which he described his idea as to the purpose of Dimetrodon's sail.


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Pancrocodylia diversity

The Crurotarsi ("cross-ankles") are a group of archosaurs, whose name was erected as a node-based clade by Paul Sereno in 1991 to supplant the old term, Pseudosuchia. Crurotarsi are by definition the sister group of the Avemetatarsalia (all forms closer to birds than crocodiles). Crurotarsi is one of the two primary daughter clades of the Archosauria. The skull is often massively built, especially in contrast to ornithodires; the snout narrow and sometimes tending to be elongate, the neck is short and strong, and the limb posture ranging from typically reptilian sprawling to dinosaur or mammal-like erect (although this is achieved in a different way to dinosaurs and mammals). The body is often protected by two or more rows of armored plates. Many crurotarsans reached large size: approximately around three meters or more in length.

Clockwise from top-left: Longosuchus meani (an aetosaur), Angistorhinus grandis, (a phytosaur), Saurosuchus galilei (a rauisuchian), Pedeticosaurus leviseuri (a sphenosuchian), Chenanisuchus lateroculi (a eusuchian), and Dakosaurus maximus (a thalattosuchian).

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