Marsh, Othniel Charles

Marsh, 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. Geological Survey. He made many expeditions to the West, especially to the Rocky Mt. regions, and gathered a large collection of fossil vertebrates, now at Yale and in the Smithsonian. Among his discoveries were Allosaurus, Apatosaurus, and other dinosaurs, Cretaceous toothed birds, swimming and flying reptiles, and the fossil ancestors of the horse. His rivalry with E. D. CopeCope, Edward Drinker,
1840–97, American paleontologist and comparative anatomist, b. Philadelphia, studied at the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and at the Smithsonian Institution.
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 over acquiring and identifying fossil remains was bitter, at times unscrupulous, and ultimately notorious. Marsh's writings are chiefly included in the monographs and reports of the Geological Survey.


See biography by C. Schuchert and C. M. LeVene (1940); 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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Marsh, Othniel Charles


Born Oct. 29, 1831, in Lockport, N.Y.; died Mar. 18, 1899, in New Haven, Conn. American paleontologist.

Marsh graduated from Yale University and did graduate work in Berlin, Breslau (now Wroclaw), and Heidelberg. From 1866 he was a professor at Yale University and director of the geology and paleontology departments of the Peabody Museum, which was subsequently made part of Yale University. He collected and described rare Mesozoic fossil mammals (the genera Dryolestes and Priacodon), as well as pterodactyls, Ichthyornis and Hesperornis, mesosaurs, dinosaurs, and Dinocerata. He constructed a genealogical tree of the horse based on American materials. Marsh was the first to investigate the brain size of fossil mammals. He also created a stratigraphic scale for the American continental series of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic.


Odontornithes…. Washington, 1880.
Dinocerata. … Washington, 1885.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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