STL Science Center

STL Science Center

25 May 2011

Discovery day

Richard Owen
For the first time in a long time we have someone new to talk about. We've probably briefly described the life of Richard Owen (I try to keep tabs on exactly who and when we discuss everything but, just to show an example of how strange things have gotten I'll scan in just the list of animals discussed since I started this after I get done here). Richard Owen first described the type species of G. torvus in 1876. Owen was the man who coined the term dinosaur for those who don't remember. Gorgonpsids as a family were then described in 1890 by another English naturalist named Richard Lydekker (British paleontology was "Richard" heavy early on ;-]).
Richard Lydekker

Lydekker was a Cambridge studied London native who wrote a myriad of books on the biology of the then faraway worlds of India, Australia, and New Guinea, amongst others. He spent much if not most of his adult life in Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and Australasia studying and describing vertebrates and defining biogeographical conditions of life in the areas. His extension into paleontology, he was one of the initial finders, namers, and describers of Titanosaurus indicus also, is what eventually led to his work on the gorgonopsid family.

Harry Seeley (not a Richard)

The third person involved with describing gorgonopsids was Harry Seeley. In 1895 Seeley tied the group more tightly together using the genus Gorgonops as his template. Seeley was a well versed British paleontologist by this time and was one of the chief proponents of separation of dinosaurs into Saurischian and Ornitischian. He also wrote a book in which he tied pterosaurs and birds as close relatives which was very popular in its day. Given the title Dragons of the Air that is understandable. It's just an awesome title.

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