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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor

 



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Othniel Charles Marsh

MARSH, Othniel Charles -  A Stan Klos Website

MARSH, Othniel Charles, naturalist, born in Lockport, New York, 29 October, 1831; (died in New Haven in 1897). He was graduated at Yale in 1860, and passed the next two years at the Yale (now Sheffield) Scientific School. During this time he showed himself a devoted student in mineralogy, and made an important beginning in paleontology in the discovery and description of Eosaurus Acadianus, a large reptile from the coal-formation of Nova Scotia.

 

From 1862 till 1865 he studied zoology, geology, and mineralogy under Ehrenberg and other eminent teachers in the universities of Berlin, Heidelberg, and Breslau, occupying his vacations in field-work in Germany and the Alps. He returned to the United States to accept the chair of paleontology, which had been established for him at Yale in 1866, and which he still (1888) holds.

 

 He has since devoted himself to the original investigation of extinct vertebrate animals, more especially of those remains that have been collected in the Rocky mountain region by scientific expeditions organized and led by himself, and, in later years, by trained parties sent into the field under his direction. During these researches Professor Marsh has crossed the Rocky Mountains twenty-one times.

 

His earlier expeditions were carried into regions that had never before been visited by white men, and were frequently attended by much hardship and danger, as the localities that he visited were often occupied by hostile Indians, and explorations could be carried on only under the protection of a strong escort of United States troops. While on one of these expeditions Professor Marsh became aware of frauds that were practiced on the Indians, and his vigorous efforts in their behalf at Washington, in 1875, resulted in procuring for them better treatment.

 

In Professor Marsh's various explorations more than 1,000 new species of extinct vertebrates have been brought to light, many of which possess great scientific interest, and represent wholly new orders, and others that were not before discovered in America. He has already published descriptions of about 300 of these, principally in papers in the "American Journal of Science."

 

Among the more important of them are a new sub-class of birds with teeth (odontornithes), and the first known American pterodactyls, including a new order (pteranodontia), from the cretaceous strata of Kansas, two new orders of large mammals from the eocene tertiary of the Rocky mountains, the tillodontia, which seem to be related to the carnivores, ungulates, and rodents, and the dinocerata, which were huge ungulates, elephantine in bulk, bearing on their skulls two or more pairs of horn-cores" also, from the same formation, eohippus, orohippus, and epihippus, the earliest known ancestors of the horse, and the first monkeys, bats, and marsupials that were found in this country, from the miocene, the brontotheridae, a new family of great ungulates, with their skulls armed with a single pair of horns; and from the jurassic, the first mammals of that formation to be found in America, representing two orders and many species, and several new families of dinosaurs of most interesting character, some of these reptiles being of enormous size, and probably the largest land animals yet discovered.

 

Since 1876 Professor Marsh has been engaged in preparing a series of monographs containing full illustrated descriptions of his western discoveries, which are in course of publication under government ate-spices. These include "Odontornithes, or Birds with Teeth" (Washington, 1880), and a volume on the "Dinoecrata" (1884). A third large volume, now in press, describes the gigantic dinosaurs of the order sauropoda, and is illustrated by 90 plates and over 200 wood-cuts. A fourth will describe the stegosauria, another group of extinct reptiles from the Rocky Mountains, a fifth describes the brontotheridae, and other memoirs will follow.

 

These volumes will be issued by the United States Geological Survey, of which Professor Marsh is now paleontologist in charge of the division of vertebrate paleontology, but previous to 1882 all of his explorations were made at his own expense.

 

Charles Darwin wrote to him, "Your work on these old birds, and on the many fossil animals of North America, has afforded the best support to the theory of evolution that has appeared within the last twenty years."

 

In 1878 Professor Marsh was president of the American association for the advancement of science, and since 1883 he has been president of the National Academy of Sciences. He is a fellow of the Geological Society of London, from which, in 1877, he received the Bigsby medal for important discoveries in paleontology. He is also a member of many other European and American scientific societies, in 1886 the University of Heidelberg conferred upon him the degree of Ph.D., and the same year he received the degree of LL.D. from Harvard.

 

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia by John Looby, Copyright © 2001 StanKlos.comTM

 

MARSH, 0thniel Charles, naturalist, born in Lockport, New York, 29 October, 1831. He was graduated at Yale in 1860, and passed the next two years at the Yale (now Sheffield) scientific school. During this time he showed himself a devoted student in mineralogy, and made an important beginning in paleontology in the discovery and description of Eosaurus Acadianus, a large reptile from the coal-formarion of Nova Scotia. From 1862 till 1865 he studied zoology, geology, and mineralogy under Ehrenberg and other eminent teachers in the universities of Berlin, Heidelberg, and Breslau, occupying his vacations in field-work in Germany and the Alps. He returned to the United States to accept the chair of paleontology, which had been established for him at Yale in 1866, and which he still (1888) holds. He has since devoted himself to the original investigation of extinct vertebrate animals, more especially of those remains that have been collected in the Rocky mountain region by scientific expeditions organized and led by himself, and, in later years, by trained parties sent into the field under his direction. During these researches Professor Marsh has crossed the Rocky mountains twenty-one times. His earlier expeditions were carried into regions that had never before been visited by white men, and were frequently attended by much hardship and danger, as the localities that he visited were often occupied by hostile Indians, and explorations could be carried on only under the protection of a strong escort of United States troops. While on one of these expeditions Professor Marsh became aware of frauds that were practised on the Indians, and his vigorous efforts in their behalf at Washington, in 1875, resulted in procuring for them better treatment. In Professor Marsh's various explorations more than 1,000 new species of extinct vertebrates have been brought to light, many of which possess great scientific interest, and represent wholly new orders, and others that were not before discovered in America. He has already published descriptions of about 300 of these, principally in papers in the "American Journal of Science." Among the more important of them are a new sub-class of birds with teeth (odontornithes), and the first known American pterodactyles, including a new order (pteranodontia), from the cretaceous strata of Kansas" two new orders of large mammals from the eocene tertiary of the Rocky mountains, the tillodontia, which seem to be related to the carnivores, ungulates, and rodents, and the dinocerata, which were huge ungulates, elephantine in bulk, bearing on their skulls two or more pairs of horn-cores" also, from the same formation, eohippus, orohippus, and epihippus, the earliest known ancestors of the horse, and the first monkeys, bats, and marsupials that were found in this country" from the miocene, the brontotheridae, a new family of great ungulates, with their skulls armed with a single pair of horns ; and from the jurassic, the first mammals of that formation to be found in America, representing two orders and many species, and several new families of dinosaurs of most interesting character, some of these reptiles being of enormous size, and probably the largest land animals yet discovered. Since 1876 Professor Marsh has been engaged in preparing a series of monographs containing full illustrated descriptions of his western discoveries, which are in course of publication under government ate-spices. These include "Odontornithes, or Birds with Teeth" (Washington, 1880), and a volume on the "Dinoecrata" (1884). A third large volume, now in press, describes the gigantic dinosaurs of the order sauropoda, and is illustrated by 90 plates and over 200 wood-cuts. A fourth will describe the stegosauria, another group of extinct reptiles from the Rocky mountains, a fifth describes the brontotheridae, and other memoirs will follow. These volumes will be issued by the United States geological survey, of which Professor Marsh is now paleontologist in charge of the division of vertebrate paleontology, but previous to 1882 all of his explorations were made at his own expense. Charles Darwin wrote to him" " Your work on these old birds, and on the many fossil animals of North America, has afforded the best support to the theory of evolution that has appeared within the last twenty years." In 1878 Professor Marsh was president of the American association for the advancement of science, and since 1883 he has been president of the National academy of sciences. He is a fellow of the Geological society of London, from which, in 1877, he received the Bigsby medal for important discoveries in paleontology. He is also a member of many other European and American scientific societies, in 1886 the University of Heidelberg conferred upon him the degree of Ph.D., and the same year he received the degree of LL.D. from Harvard.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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