Cope, Edward Drinker

Cope, Edward Drinker,

1840–97, American paleontologist and comparative anatomist, b. Philadelphia, studied at the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and at the Smithsonian Institution. His large collection of fossil mammals is now at the American Museum of Natural History. His rivalry with O. C. MarshMarsh, Othniel Charles,
1831–99, American paleontologist, b. Lockport, N.Y., grad. Yale, 1860. He studied abroad, and from 1866 served at Yale as the first professor of paleontology and as curator of the Peabody Museum. From 1882 he was also connected with the U.S.
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 over acquiring and identifying fossil remains was bitter, at times unscrupulous, and ultimately notorious. His many published works include The Vertebrata of the Tertiary Formations of the West (1883), a report on the F. V. Hayden survey in which he served as geologist and paleontologist. Cope believed that evolution arose from an organism's inner urge to attain a higher state of being.


See studies by U. Lanham (1973), D. R. Wallace (1999), and M. Jaffe (2000)

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Cope, Edward Drinker


Born July 28, 1840, in Philadelphia, Pa.; died there Apr. 12, 1897. American paleontologist and zoologist. Member of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (1872).

Cope was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania from 1886. Beginning in 1895 he was also president of the American Society of Naturalists. His principal works were on the fossil vertebrates of the Cretaceous and Cenozoic deposits of North America (he described about 1,000 new species). He differentiated the order Stegocephalia among extinct amphibians, devised a new classification of modern and fossil fish, and reexamined the taxonomic position of many mammals. Cope was one of the founders of neo-Lamarckianism in American paleontology. He admitted the possibility of inheriting characteristics acquired as a result of the use or nonuse of organs (kinetogenesis) and as a result of the effect of the external environment (physio-genesis); he also accepted the influence of the vitalist principle —“a special form of energy,” “growth forces,” or bathmism.


Borisiak, A. A. Iz istoriipaleontologii (Ideia evoliutsii ). Leningrad, 1926. Davitashvili, L. Sh. Razvitie idei i metodov ν paleontologii posle Darvina. Moscow-Leningrad, 1940. Chapter 14.
Istoriia evoliutsionnykh uchenii ν biologii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1966.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Cope, Edward Drinker

(1840–97) zoologist, paleontologist; born in Philadelphia. Although his postsecondary education was limited to one year's study with Joseph Leidy at the University of Pennsylvania, Cope went on to found (along with Leidy and O.C. Marsh) the science of American vertebrate paleontology. On numerous western American expeditions he discovered more than 600 fossil species, mostly of cold-blooded vertebrates and extinct mammals, whose discovery significantly pushed back the age of mammals. His published descriptions laid the groundwork for the classification of North American fishes, amphibians, and reptiles. A believer in the inheritability of acquired characteristics, he became America's foremost neo-Lamarckian evolutionary theorist. The ambitious Cope struggled for primacy in his new and fertile field in a famous 25-year feud with his archrival O.C. Marsh, with whom he publicly traded vitriolic accusations of inaccuracy and unethical conduct. Cope's massive published output included more than 1,500 titles. He owned and edited American Naturalist (1878–97) and was professor at the University of Pennsylvania (1889–97).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.