Ostrom, John H. & John S. McIntosh. Marsh's Dinosaurs. The Collections from Como Bluff

  • First edition, first printing. This volume is the first appearance in print of 150 lithographs of sauropod and stegosaurian dinosaur fossils excavated at Como Bluff in Wyoming by Othniel Charles Marsh (1831-1899).

    “Othniel Marsh was one of the towering figures in the early years of American paleontology. He discovered, described, and classified the fossils of many fossil vertebrates, including well-known dinosaurs such as Stegosaurus and Triceratops. Marsh was an early adherent of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and his enormous fossil collection allowed him to demonstrate a evolutionary link between birds and dinosaurs, and to trace the fifty-million year development of horses from Eohippus to the modern Equus... Marsh spent his academic career at Yale University where he led the first Yale Scientific Expeditions into the west and was the first professor of vertebrate palaeontology. Marsh’s uncle was George Peabody, a wealthy and well-connected banker and merchant who funded Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History at Marsh’s request. Marsh was named one of the museum’s first curators and used his own money to enlarge the museum’s collections” (National Academy of Sciences biography).

    The fossil field at Como Bluff, discovered in 1877, was “one of the greatest assemblages of giant and small dinosaurs and of minute and extremely precious Jurassic mammals ever to be found” (preface). The fossils’ excavation, study, and display at Yale’s Peabody Museum and the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D. C. “probably had greater impact on the study of palaeontology than any other event save the publication of Darwin’s theory. The finds at Como Bluff revolutionzed field and collecting procedures, generated a startling growth in paleontological studies, stimulated great public interest, and left a permanent mark on the major museums of the world. For the next sixty years paleontological expeditions were planned and undertaken with the fervent hope that another ‘Como Bluff’ might be discovered... The one hundred and fifty lithographs published here were originally intended to be part of monographic studies by Marsh of the sauropod and stegosaurian dinosaurs. They were prepared under Marsh’s direction by illustrator F. Berger and lithographer E. Crisand, and financed by the United States Geological Survey; their total cost of preparation during the 1880s exceeded $45,000. Only a few had been previously published, chiefly in Marsh’s Dinosaurs of North America. the majority are published here for the first time... to commemorate the founding of the Peabody Museum” (preface).

  • New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1966.

    Tall quarto. Original buff boards, titles to spine and fossil vertebrae design to upper board in dark brown. Colour frontispiece, folding map, topographical folding plate, 148 plates of which 2 are folding, 7 pages of maps and illustrations within the text. A couple of small spots to the front free endpaper, paper flaws from manufacturing affecting the abbreviations list and first page of contents list as well as two plates, upper corner bumped. An excellent copy.