In the late 1800s, a flurry of fossil speculation across the American West escalated into a high-profile national feud called the Bone Wars.
Drawn into the spectacle were two scientists from the Lone Star State: geologist Robert T. Hill, now acclaimed as the Father of Texas Geology, and naturalist Jacob Boll, who made many of the state's earliest fossil discoveries.
Hill and Boll had supporting roles in the Bone Wars through their work for one of the feud's antagonists, Edward Drinker Cope. A new study by vertebrate paleontologist Louis L. Jacobs at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, unveils new details about their roles and the Bone Wars in Texas.
Jacobs discovered 13 historic letters written by Cope to Hill. Jacobs found the letters in an archive of Hill's papers at SMU's DeGolyer Library. The letters span seven years, from 1887 to 1894.
Hill, who worked for the U.S. Geological Survey, not only provided Cope with fossils of interest but also shared geological information about fossil locales.
As for Boll, he wrote an ode in his native German to an important fossil he supplied to Cope. Jacobs came across the poem in the American Museum of Natural History. He and his co-authors on the study present an English translation of the poem.
Boll, who was a paid collector for Cope as was the practice at the time supplied the well-known paleontologist with many fossils from Texas. More than 30 of the taxa ultimately named by Cope were fossils collected by Boll.
"Fossils collected by Boll and studied by Cope have become some of the most significant icons in paleontology," said Jacobs, an SMU professor of earth sciences.
Jacobs' study, "Jacob Boll, Robert T. Hill, and the Early History of Vertebrate Paleontology in Texas," is published in the journal Historical Biology: An International Journal of Paleobiology as part of the conference volume of the 12th International Symposium on Early
|Contact: Margaret Allen|
Southern Methodist University