Ever wonder how people figured out there used to be such things as dinosaurs? Curious about how scientists learned to reconstruct fossil skeletons? The knowledge we take for granted today was slow in coming, and along the way, scientists and scholars had some weird ideas.
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c.400 BC-Herodotus relates the griffin myth. (The myth is probably inspired by Protoceratops and Psittacosaurus remains.)
c.180-Pausanias records a description of the skeleton of the hero Ajax. (It is probably a fossil mastodon or rhinoceros.)
1171-As later chronicled by Ralph of Coggeshall in Essex, a river bank collapses to reveal giant fossil bones that are attributed to a 40-foot-tall man.
1565-Conrad Gesner publishes De Omni Rerum Fossilium ("A Book of Fossil Objects").
1643-Workers dig up a skeleton in Flanders. A court physician to the Danish king observes the excavation, measures the skeleton in "Brabantian cubits," and attributes the skeleton to a giant. It will later be identified as a fossil proboscidian.
Things you should know about this site
This is not a comprehensive history of paleontology or biology, nor is it the result of systematic research. It's not the work of a professional scientist, educator or historian. It's just an eclectic collection of old illustrations and information.
Although this site focuses more on the history of science than on evolution, it treats evolution as a scientific fact, not "just a theory."