The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Marsh, Othniel Charles

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The Encyclopedia Americana
Marsh, Othniel Charles
Edition of 1920. See also Othniel Charles Marsh on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

MARSH, Othniel Charles, American palæontologist: b. Lockport, N. Y., 29 Oct 1831; d. New Haven, Conn., 18 March 1899. He was graduated from Yale in 1860, studied in 1860-62 at the Yale (now the Sheffield) Scientific School, in 1862-65 at the German universities of Berlin, Heidelberg and Breslau, and from 1866 until his death was the first professor of palæontology at Yale. From 1882 he was vertebrate palæontologist to the United States Geological Survey, his field-wotk for the survey ceasing in 1892. His investigations in regard to extinct vertebrates are very important and were declared by Charles Darwin to furnish some of the most satisfactory evidence of the evolutionary theory. He made particular study of the Rocky Mountain region, and from 1868 almost annually organized and conducted expeditions into that district. In these explorations he discovered over 1,000 new fossil vertebrates, of which he classified and described more than one-half. Among his discoveries are those of the Odontornithes, a subclass of Cretaceous birds, with teeth; the Dinocerata, ungulate animals of the Eocene period, elephantine in size; the first known American pterodactyls, or flying lizards, and several new families of dinosaurs. Perhaps he was best known for his study of the primitive horse, the Eohippus, Orohippus and Epihippus. In 1890-99 he made researches in the geology of the region between the Appalachian range and the Atlantic. He was curator of the geological collection of the Yale Museum of Natural History in 1867-99, and in 1898 presented to the university his collections. He was a nephew of George Peabody (q.v.), and it is said to have been at his suggestion that the Peabody Museum at Yale was established. In 1887 he was made honorary curator of vertebrate palæontology in the United States National Museum, and in 1898 received the Cuvier medal of the French Academy of Sciences. He was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1878 and of the National Academy of Sciences in 1883-95. From a bibliography of 237 titles these works by him may be cited: ‘Odontornithes: A Monograph of the Extinct Toothed Birds of North America’ (1880); ‘Dinocerata: A Monograph of an Extinct Order of Gigantic Mammals’ (1884), and ‘The Dinosaurs of North America’ (1896). Consult memoir by C. E. Beecher in the American Journal of Science, June 1899.