Sir Richard Owen (1804-1892) coined the term dinosaur and founded London's Natural History Museum

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Dinosaur Jungle   >   Dinosaur Scientists   >   Sir Richard Owen

Sir Richard Owen



Sir Richard Owen (1804-1892) was an English paleontologist, biologist, and comparative anatomist
Sir Richard Owen

  • He is perhaps best known for having coined the term "dinosaur" (or actually "dinosauria") in 1842 - it means "terrible reptile".

  • Owen created, in conjunction with Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, the first full-size dinosaur reconstructions. These were originally produced for the Great Exhibition of 1851 and displayed in Crystal Palace, London, with a total of 33 models eventually produced. Perhaps the most famous story about these models, is that Owen hosted a dinner for 21 prominent men of science inside the model of Iguanodon New Year's Eve, 1853. The surviving models are today located in Dinosaur Court in the Crystal Palace area of South London.

  • Owen was perhaps the person most directly responsible for the foundation of the British Museum (Natural History) in South Kensington, London, England, which is today of course known as the "Natural History Museum".

    Natural History Museum in London

Owen was born on July 20th n 1804, in Lancaster, England. He was educated in Lancaster Royal Grammar School, the University of Edinburgh, and in St Bartholomew's Hospital London.

Although Owen considered a career as a surgeon, he was in fact more interest in anatomical research. He eventually accepted a position as assistant to the conservator of the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, and abandoned medical practice.

In 1836, Owen was appointed as a Hunterian professor of the Royal College of Surgeons, in 1849, he became the conservator of the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, and then in 1856, he became superintendent of the natural history department of the British Museum. His work with the British Museum including creating a new Natural History building in South Kensington (today the Natural History Museum), and in 1884 he was knighted. Owen retired, and died in 1892 in Sheen Lodge, Richmond Park, South London.

Sir Richard Owen with the skeleton of an extinct Moa

During his career, Owen wrote numerous scientific papers, including anatomic descriptions of many animals, including both vertebrates and invertebrates, and both extant and extinct (fossil) animals. He was even granted right of first refusal of any animal carcasses from London Zoo, and, as result, according to legend, his wife once returned home to find a dead rhinoceros in the hallway of their house.

Although Owen recognized many similarities between different animals, Owen took them as evidence of "archetypes" in god's mind, rather than as evidence of common descent. After Charles Darwin published "On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection", in 1859, Owen, in his position with the British Museum, received many letters (pro-, anti- and inquiries) concerning the book, and initially avoiding expressing a view, but rather argued in favor of a new Natural History Museum.

However, in 1860, an anonymously bylined review of "On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection" written by Richard Owen, appeared in the Edinburgh Review, and Owen gradually became engaged in a fierce and bitter dispute with Darwin's followers, especially T. H. Huxley. Nevertheless, a fossil of one of the transitional animals (Archaeopteryx) predicted by Charles Darwin was bought by Owen for the British Museum in 1863 (although Owen described it as simply a bird, rather than a proto-bird or transitional form).

Aside from the controversies over evolution and Natural Selection, Owen was also involved in a number of other controversies and disputes during his career. Although he began on friendly terms with Owen, Darwin himself wrote "I used to be ashamed of hating him so much, but now I will carefully cherish my hatred and contempt to the last days of my life".


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The Dinosaur Hunters : A True Story of Scientific Rivalry and the Discovery of the Prehistoric World
By Deborah Cadbury

Harpercollins Pub Ltd
Paperback (384 pages)

The Dinosaur Hunters : A True Story of Scientific Rivalry and the Discovery of the Prehistoric World
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The story of two nineteenth-century scientists who revealed one of the most significant and exciting events in the natural history of this planet: the existence of dinosaurs. In 'The Dinosaur Hunters' Deborah Cadbury brilliantly recreates the remarkable story of the bitter rivalry between two men: Gideon Mantell uncovered giant bones in a Sussex quarry, became obsessed with the lost world of the reptiles and was driven to despair. Richard Owen, a brilliant anatomist, gave the extinct creatures their name and secured for himself unrivalled international acclaim.
Terrible Lizard: The First Dinosaur Hunters and the Birth of a New Science
By Deborah Cadbury

Brand: Henry Holt and Co.
Hardcover (384 pages)

Terrible Lizard: The First Dinosaur Hunters and the Birth of a New Science
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The dramatic story of the discovery that forever changed man's perception of his place in the universe.

In 1812, the skeleton of a monster was discovered beneath the cliffs of Dorset, setting in motion a collision between science and religion and among scientists eager to claim supremacy in a brand-new field. For Rever William Buckland, an eccentric naturalist at Oxford University, the fossil remains of a creature that existed before Noah's flood inspired an attempt to prove the accuracy of the biblical record. Gideon Mantell, a naturalist who uncovered giant bones in a Sussex quarry, also became obsessed with the ancient past, risking everything to promote his vision of the lost world of reptiles. Soon the eminent anatomist Richard Owen entered the fray, claiming the credit for the discovery of the dinosaurs.

In a fast-paced narrative, Terrible Lizard reveals a strange, awesome prehistoric era and the struggle that set the stage for Darwin's shattering theories-and for controversies that still rage today.
Archaeopteryx (Finding Dinosaurs) (Focus Readers: Finding Dinosaurs: Navigator Level)
By Rebecca E. Hirsch

Focus Readers
Paperback (32 pages)

Archaeopteryx (Finding Dinosaurs) (Focus Readers: Finding Dinosaurs: Navigator Level)
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Explores what scientists have uncovered about Archaeopteryx. Colorful photos and illustrations help bring each dinosaur to life as easy-to-read text guides readers through important discoveries about its appearance, diet, and habitat.
Dinosaur Mobiles: Six models to make and hang (Tarquin Make Mobiles Series)
By Anne Wild

Tarquin Group
Paperback (24 pages)

Dinosaur Mobiles: Six models to make and hang (Tarquin Make Mobiles Series)
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Six delightful dinosaurs in full colour to cut out and make. Make landbased creatrues such as a Triceratops, an Allosaurus, a Stegosaurus and an Apatosaurus. Make a sea based creature, the Stenopterygius and a flying dinosaur, the Rhamphorhynchus. Also in the book is a minibook which tells you about them and their history.
The Great Dinosaur Controversy: A Guide to the Debates (Controversies in Science)
By Keith Parsons

Brand: ABC-CLIO
Released: 2003-12-02
Hardcover (294 pages)

The Great Dinosaur Controversy: A Guide to the Debates (Controversies in Science)
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A historical review of the most important scientific controversies that have shaped our knowledge of dinosaurs since the discovery of important fossils in the 1820s.


• Introductory chapter on the role of controversy in science focusing on the contributions of scientists such as Edward Cope and T. H. Huxley

• Illustrations of the major figures involved in the debates

Dinosaurs: Amazing Pictures and Animal Facts Everyone Should Know (The Animal Kids' Books Series Book 3)
By Ann Lawrence

WMC Publishing
Released: 2015-11-30
Kindle Edition (92 pages)

Dinosaurs: Amazing Pictures and Animal Facts Everyone Should Know (The Animal Kids  Books Series Book 3)
 
Product Description:

Dinosaurs is the third in a series of books exploring the animal kingdom using both words and amazing pictures of animals.


The world of animals


Animals come in all shapes and sizes and include mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians. And, whether we are talking about wild animals or their more familiar domestic counterparts, the animal kingdom is a fascinating world that you can spend a lifetime exploring, and only scratch the surface.

Dinosaurs - Amazing Pictures and Animal Facts Everyone Should Know is truly all about dinosaurs and, while I cannot quite have you walking with the dinosaurs, I can take you back to the dinosaur world and introduce you to some of the scary, carnivorous dinosaurs, the huge plant eating dinosaurs, the small feathered dinosaurs and what many people refer to as the dinosaur birds. Indeed, we will look at dinosaurs galore in this dinosaurs A to Z.

The dinosaurs roamed the earth for some 165 million years and this book looks at these fascinating reptiles and answers many questions about them including:

  • What is a dinosaur?
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  • What did the dinosaurs look like?
  • What was the dinosaur world like?
  • How big were dinosaurs?
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  • ...and much, much more!
The history of the dinosaurs is fascinating and discoveries of dinosaur bones from around the world mean that we have been able to piece together a wealth of information about these prehistoric creatures. Dinosaur fossils for example allow us to paint a picture of what the Jurassic dinosaurs would have looked like, and how frightening the king of the dinosaurs would have been if you had come face-to-face with him.

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Please note that this Kindle version of this book includes a downloadable Dinosaurs Quiz book (in PDF format). Details of how to download your copy of the Dinosaurs Quiz can be found inside the Kindle book.

The Huggabears: The Great Dinosaur Discovery
By Angelique La Fon-Cox

Released: 2019-07-27
Kindle Edition (23 pages)

The Huggabears: The Great Dinosaur Discovery
 
Product Description:
ourney back in time with Kooshla, Saboo, Tanuuk and their cousin Koba to an ancient jungle full of dinosaurs! There the cubs learn about dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes. When they come home to the Bearwood Forest, the cubs have many questions about where dinosaurs are in the Bible. Learn what Daddy Huggabear and Uncle Mo Mo teach the little cubs about God’s Word and the mysterious dinosaurs that roamed the earth so long, long ago!
Darwin's Fossils: The Collection That Shaped the Theory of Evolution
By Adrian Lister

Smithsonian Books
Released: 2018-04-24
Paperback (160 pages)

Darwin s Fossils: The Collection That Shaped the Theory of Evolution
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Reveals how Darwin's study of fossils shaped his scientific thinking and led to his development of the theory of evolution.

Darwin's Fossils is an accessible account of Darwin's pioneering work on fossils, his adventures in South America, and his relationship with the scientific establishment.

While Darwin's research on Galápagos finches is celebrated, his work on fossils is less well known. Yet he was the first to collect the remains of giant extinct South American mammals; he worked out how coral reefs and atolls formed; he excavated and explained marine fossils high in the Andes; and he discovered a fossil forest that now bears his name. All of this research was fundamental in leading Darwin to develop his revolutionary theory of evolution.

This richly illustrated book brings Darwin's fossils, many of which survive in museums and institutions around the world, together for the first time. Including new photography of many of the fossils--which in recent years have enjoyed a surge of scientific interest--as well as superb line drawings produced in the nineteenth century and newly commissioned artists' reconstructions of the extinct animals as they are understood today, Darwin's Fossils reveals how Darwin's discoveries played a crucial role in the development of his groundbreaking ideas.
Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures (Discovery Plus)
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QED Publishing
Released: 2018-02-22
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This unique guide lifts the flap on the secrets animal life in the prehistoric world. These include what were the first life forms, when did life move onto the land, and what were the dinosaurs and why did they disappear. The book uses flaps, acetates, wheels and gatefolds to expose some of these amazing facts and details. Engaging artworks and text will keep the reader enthralled as they interact with the various elements throughout.
The First Dinosaur Book: Richard Owen on British Fossil Reptiles (1842) (HISTORY OF EARTH SCIENCES SERIES)
Scholars Facsimilies & Reprint
Hardcover (212 pages)
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