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Newly discovered letters and translated German ode expand Texas link to infamous Bone Wars
Date:9/11/2012

5 million years ago, Jacobs said. For much of the Cretaceous, a shallow sea cut North America in half from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico. Dinosaurs roamed the coastal shoreline and huge reptiles swam the waters, an environment that preserved plants and animals as fossils for posterity millions of years later.

Through his reading of the letters, Jacobs found that Cope disagreed with the way Hill named the Cretaceous rock units, and told him so. Cope counseled Hill: "You mustn't mind criticism. We all get it and get used to it; but it isn't comfortable at first."

In subsequent letters, said Jacobs, it's apparent Hill had changed his approach, for which Cope offered him high praise: "I wish to say definitely that your discovery of the lower Cretaceous series in this country is the most important addition to our geology that has been heard for a long time."

Jacobs' research found that numerous letters reveal that Cope was persistent in trying to buy a Cretaceous fish fossil that Hill had collected. In various letters, Cope expresses a desire to view the fossil, each time stating his request in a different way. Hill ultimately sold Cope the fossil for $15. Cope named the specimen Macrepistius arenatus. It is housed at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Hill's fish specimen was one of 1,000 species of backboned animals, from fish to dinosaurs, that Cope described and named in his lifetime.

Also evident in the correspondence is a glimpse into the battle intrigue between Cope and Marsh, Jacobs said. In one letter, Cope angles to learn from Hill details about a new director of the USGS, to judge whether "our ? friend O.C.M." would have an advantage.

Cope wrote to Hill, "Possibly you can find out how the land lies?"

Cope's other Texas connection was through Jacob Boll

Boll was a much larger supplier to Cope and ultimately made significant contributions to the field of paleontolo
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Contact: Margaret Allen
mallen@smu.edu
214-768-7664
Southern Methodist University
Source:Eurekalert  

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