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Othniel Charles Marsh (left) and Edward Drinker Cope, whose rivalry sparked the Bone Wars
The Bone Wars were rivalries between paleontologists, mainly Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh, that led to a surge of fossil discoveries during the Gilded Age of American history. Cope, of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, and Marsh, of the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale, competed using underhanded methods, resorting to bribery, theft, destruction of bones, and mutual attacks in scientific publications. They sought fossils in rich bone beds in Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming. From 1877 to 1892, they used their wealth and influence to finance their own expeditions and to procure services and dinosaur bones from fossil hunters. Cope and Marsh were financially and socially ruined by their attempts to disgrace each other, but their contributions to science and the field of paleontology, including many unopened boxes of fossils found after their deaths, were massive. Their efforts led to many new descriptions of dinosaur species, of which 32 remain valid today. The Bone Wars shed light on prehistoric life and sparked the public's interest in dinosaurs, leading to continued fossil excavation in North America in the decades to follow. (Full article...)