Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 67.djvu/567

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561
EXPLORATIONS FOR FOSSIL VERTEBRATES.

WESTERN EXPLORATIONS FOR FOSSIL VERTEBRATES.
By Dr. HENRY FAIRFIELD OSBORN,

GEOLOGIST AND PALEONTOLOGIST, U. S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.

OWING to the establishment of new natural history museums in different parts of the United States, western exploration for the past history of the reptilian and mammalian life of North America is becoming more active and energetic every year. Formerly (between 1869 and 1877) the only explorations of this character were conducted by Professor Cope, of Philadelphia, one of the ablest zoologists and anatomists this country has produced, and by the still more widely known Professor Marsh, of Yale College. The fossils came in so rapidly that, while rousing keen scientific interest, they could not be placed on exhibition for the benefit of the public. In 1877 Princeton College began its series of western trips under Professor Scott and the present writer. Then Kansas University, under the able leadership of Professor S. W. Williston, went actively into the field, chiefly in the old Cretaceous sea bottom of western Kansas.

In 1890 the American Museum of Natural History of New York paved the way for a new order of things, by initiating a series of explorations on a large scale into different regions of the west, and placing the fossils on public exhibition as rapidly as possible.

The next comer was the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh, which, under the active direction of Dr. Holland, secured as a leader Dr. J. L. Wortman, who had proved his unusual abilities in this line, first by his wonderful discoveries in the Big Horn Mountains in northern Wyoming and elsewhere in the service of Professor Cope, and later in the service of the American Museum of Natural History. The work of the Carnegie Museum, however, soon passed into the hands of Mr. J. B. Hatcher, another explorer of the highest ability, who had previously gained a world-wide reputation by his exploration of the fossil beds of Patagonia in the interests of Princeton. The death of Mr. Hatcher during the summer of 1904 was a very great blow to American paleontology. Under Wortman, Hatcher and Peterson the collections at the Carnegie Museum have grown apace, and the museum now has an almost unique collection of the gigantic amphibious dinosaurs, reptiles from fifty to eighty feet in length, which inhabited the shore lines of the nascent Rocky Mountains in the. Jurassic period. When the new portion of this great museum is completed and sufficient space is provided, it is proposed to mount some of these great animals com-