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New Book: The Second Jurassic Dinosaur Rush

The Second Jurassic Dinosaur Rush by Paul D. Brinkman, NC Museum of Natural SciencesThe so-called “Bone Wars” of the 1880s, which pitted Edward Drinker Cope against Othniel Charles Marsh in a frenzy of fossil collection and discovery, may have marked the introduction of dinosaurs to the American public, but the second Jurassic dinosaur rush, which took place around the turn of the twentieth century, brought the prehistoric beasts back to life. These later expeditions — which involved new competitors hailing from leading natural history museums in New York, Chicago and Pittsburgh — yielded specimens that would be reconstructed into the colossal skeletons that thrill visitors today in museum halls across the country.

Reconsidering the fossil speculation, the museum displays, and the media frenzy that ushered dinosaurs into the American public consciousness, Museum research curator Paul Brinkman takes us back to the birth of dinomania, and the modern obsession with all things Jurassic. Featuring engaging and colorful personalities and motivations both altruistic and ignoble, "The Second Jurassic Dinosaur Rush" (Chicago Press) shows that these later expeditions were just as foundational — if not more so — to the establishment of paleontology and the budding collections of museums as the more famous Cope and Marsh treks.

Brinkman, who has a PhD in the History of Science, is a devoted student of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century geology and vertebrate paleontology, especially in the American West. He is also interested in the spread of science from Europe to the New World; the trans-Atlantic exchanges of specimens and ideas; and the life and work of Charles Darwin, his contemporaries, and their contributions to geology, paleontology and biogeography. Brinkman says his approach to documenting the history of science is largely sociological: science was what scientists did. “I aspire to write the kind of micro-historical narrative that places the reader in the boots of the naturalist, with a Marsh pick or a plant press in hand.” The book is available now in the Museum Store and at book sellers everywhere.