Strange Science: The Rocky Road to Modern Paleontology and Biology

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.

Travelogues: SmithsonianCradle of Humankind Burgess Shale ROM Galápagos UK Darwin Groupie Handouts 1 2 3

New in the Goof Gallery

T. rex sleeping Iguanodon Spinosaurus Possible hafgufa

Featured in the Goof Gallery

Burgess Shale weirdos Seal impression Birds Implausible plants

Featured in Biographies

Maria Sibylla Merian Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins Ernst Haeckel Johann Jakob Scheuchzer

Timeline Tidbits

c. 713-A Japanese chronicle, the Hitachi Fudoki, describes a shell mound, perhaps one of the oldest descriptions of prehistoric remains in medieval writings.

1663-German physician Otto von Guericke pieces together bones from different species to make a fossil "unicorn."

1834-1842-Based on Persian "Titan" legends about the region, paleontologist Hugh Falconer excavates literal tons of proboscidean and giraffid fossils from the Siwalik Hills.

1886-A. Ficatier publishes an account of the discovery of a trilobite perforated with two holes (perhaps to hang on a thread) at a Magdalenian-age site in France. The fossil lends the site its name of La Grotte du Trilobite.

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."