The bitter dinosaur feud at the heart of paleontology

As two warring dinosaur bone hunters sought to destroy each other, they laid the foundations for our knowledge of dinosaurs.

In the chilly Berlin winter of 1863, two talented American paleontologists got talking at an otherwise unremarkable scientific meeting. The younger of the two was a tall and handsome 23-year-old named Edward Drinker Cope, who wore his thick hair slicked sideways and talked a lot. He had been sent to Europe by his genteel Philadelphian family to put an ocean between him and a young lady they deemed unsuitable.

The man he was talking to was Othniel Charles Marsh. He’d been born to a poor farming family in rural New York, but had the benefit of a very rich uncle to fund his education. At 32 years old, Marsh was reserved and a little pompous. He wore a drooping walrus mustache and his hair was beginning to thin… read more >

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