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Timeline of the great findings of Paleontology and Biology

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Author Topic: Timeline of the great findings of Paleontology and Biology  (Read 3305 times)
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« on: September 05, 2008, 01:27:16 pm »

1800-Erasmus Darwin publishes Phytologia declaring that leaves breathe air through tiny pores, sugar and starch are the products of plant "digestion," and nitrates and phosphorus promote vegetation.

1800-Lamarck proposes his theory of evolution.

1802-Lamarck coins the term biology.

1802-A Massachusetts boy named Pliny Moody finds fossil footprints, probably from theropod dinosaurs, on his father's farm. They are initially identified as the tracks of Noah's raven.

1802-In Natural Theology, William Paley uses the analogy of a watch requiring a watchmaker to argue that the universe implies an intelligent designer.

1803-The United States purchases the Louisiana Territory from France.

1803-U.S. President Thomas Jefferson appoints Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore the uncharted West. Among the marvels Lewis and Clark are expected to find are erupting volcanoes, mountains of salt, unicorns, living mastodons and seven-foot-tall beavers. They will find none of these, but will find fossils.

1804-James Parkinson publishes the first of a three-volume work entitled Organic Remains of a Former World. In this volume, he describes fossils as the remains of Noah's Flood. In the next several years, he will recognize fossils as the remains of a world before people, and acknowledge as much in the third volume, published in 1811.

1804-Georges Cuvier suggests that fossils found in the area around Paris are "thousands of centuries" old. This casual observation pushes the age of the earth well beyond its commonly accepted limits. Cuvier also publishes a paper explaining that the fossil animals he has studied bear no resemblance to anything still living, an unambiguous endorsement of the theory of extinction.

1809-Charles Darwin is born on February 12. (Abraham Lincoln is born the same day.)

1809-Jean-Baptiste de Monet de Lamarck publishes Philosophie Zoologique proposing that animals can acquire new characteristics during their lives and pass those characteristics on to their offspring, an idea for which he is openly ridiculed by Georges Cuvier.

1810-Mary Anning's brother Joseph discovers the world's first fossil ichthyosaur. Mary Anning will collect the fossil the next year.

1811-Georges Cuvier identifies the "biblical flood" victim, described by Johann Jakob Scheuchzer in 1731, as a giant salamander.

1812-Georges Cuvier correctly identifies pterosaurs as flying reptiles. His conclusions will be largely ignored for many years.

1815-Relying largely on fossils to identify strata, civil engineer William Smith publishes a geologic map of England, Wales and part of Scotland, the largest region so far documented. Four years later, Smith will be arrested and sent to debtors' prison.

1815-1822-Lamarck restates his transmutational theories in a seven-volume study on invertebrates, Histoire Naturelle des Animaux sans Vertèbres.

1818-Physician William Wells hypothesizes about selection and human evolution. Charles Darwin will later acknowledge Wells as someone who anticipated the theory of natural selection.

1820-Gideon Mantell discovers, in England, a fossil trunk of a tree resembling that of a tropical palm, evidence of a much warmer climate.

1820-1821-Mary Anning excavates the world's first fossil plesiosaur to be correctly identified, formally described by Henry De la Beche and William Conybeare.

1822-Etienne Geoffroy publishes Anatomical Philosophy discussing similarities between skeletal structures — such as bat wings, paws and hands — that support the evolutionary claims of Lamarck. He also argues that arthropods and vertebrates have similar but inverse body plans, an assertion that will ultimately be widely accepted.

1822-William Buckland publishes an account of how ancient hyenas lived and fed, based on their fossil remains. This is one of the first descriptions of living habits based on fossil evidence.

1822-William Buckland finds a skeleton covered in ocher. Called the Red Lady, it will later be identified as Cro-Magnon (and male).

1822-Omalius d'Halloy names the Cretaceous System, after massive chalk deposits. This time period will later be identified with the last dinosaurs and the first flowering plants.

1822-William Conybeare and William Phillips name the Carboniferous System, a period associated with coal deposits. This time period will also become known as the Mississippian and Pennsylvanian Periods in the United States.

1824-William Buckland publishes Notice on the Megalosaurus ("giant lizard"), the first dinosaur fossil to be described and named, although the term "dinosaur" doesn't yet exist. Buckland also announces the discovery of the first fossil mammal from the Mesozoic.

1825-Gideon Mantell publishes Notice on the Iguanodon, the second description of a dinosaur and the first description of an herbivorous fossil reptile.

1825-1827-Robert Grant publishes a series of articles on sea sponges demonstrating that they are animals (not plants) and supporting the theory of transmutationism.

1826-M. Charles Desmoulins publishes Hist. Nat. des Races Humaines arguing for 16 distinct, unchanging human species.

1827-1838-John James Audubon publishes Birds of America, in four volumes.

1828-Adolphe Brongniart publishes Prodrome d'une histoire des Végétaux Fossils, a study of fossil plants. He outlines four distinct phases in plant prehistory: (1) primitive plants from the Coal Measures, (2) the first conifers, (3) domination by cycads and conifers, and (4) flowering plants.

1828-A year after discovering the mammalian egg cell, Karl Ernst von Baer publishes Entwickelungsgeschichte der Thiere tracing the developmental history of animals.

1828-Mary Anning discovers Britain's first recognized pterosaur fossil. (Gideon Mantell has already found pterosaur remains, but has attributed them to a bird).

1829-Jules Desnoyers names the Quaternary System, a time in which humans have lived.

1829-Philippe-Charles Schmerling discovers a Neanderthal fossil, the partial cranium of a small child. The fossil will not be accurately identified as Neanderthal, however, for a century, though Charles Lyell will illustrate it in Antiquity of Man in 1863.

1830-Charles Lyell publishes Principles of Geology, a book that Charles Darwin will later take with him aboard the Beagle.

1830-Georg Goldfuss announces that he sees "hairs" on a pterosaur fossil. This outlandish assertion will be supported by later finds.

1831-Patrick Matthew publishes On Naval Timber and Arboriculture with an appendix describing what Charles Darwin will later name natural selection. After becoming aware of Matthew's hypothesis, Darwin will acknowledge it in a reprint of On the Origin of Species.

1831-1836-Charles Darwin sails on the Beagle, visiting, among other locations, the Galápagos Islands.

1832-Gideon Mantell finds the first fossil Hylaeosaurus, an ankylosaur. He will formally name it the following year, making it the third identified dinosaur species.

1834-William Whewell coins the term "scientist."

1834-Friedrich von Alberti names the Triassic System. This time period will later by identified with the first dinosaurs.

1835-Adam Sedgwick names the Cambrian System, recognizing the first rich assemblage of fossils in the rock record. Roderick Murchison names the Silurian System. He believes (not entirely accurately) that the Silurian predates the fossils of land plants, and consequently any economically valuable coal seams. Murchison and Sedgwick will later develop a bitter priority dispute over these systems.

1836-Edward Hitchcock publishes his first paper on stone footprints in Connecticut. He continues to study and publish papers on these footprints, believing they have been made by giant birds. (They will later prove to be the footprints of bipedal dinosaurs.)

1836-Henry Riley and Samuel Stutchbury name Thecodontosaurus, the fourth named dinosaur species.

1837-Hermann von Meyer names Plateosaurus, the fifth named dinosaur species.

c.1837-Charles Darwin formulates the theory of natural selection to explain evolution. Fearful of the reaction his theory will cause, he delays publishing.

1837-Louis Agassiz presents the theory of the Ice Age at a meeting of the Swiss Society of Natural Sciences. The shocked audience reacts with hostility.

1838-1842-Celebrity painter John Martin produces dramatic illustrations of feisty dinosaurs, for books written largely for the public. These dragon-like depictions are hits with their intended audience but many scientists reject them as inaccurate.

1839-Roderick Murchison and Adam Sedgwick name the Devonian System.

1840-1850-Several scientists see chromosomes under the microscope, but don't understand what they are.

1841-Roderick Murchison names the Permian System.

1841-William Smith's nephew John Phillips formally proposes the geologic eras Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cainozoic (Cenozoic).

1841-1842-English anatomist Sir Richard Owen proposes the term Dinosauria ("terrible lizards").

1842-Richard Owen names Cetiosaurus, the sixth named dinosaur species.

1842-Based on Agassiz's Ice Age theory, self-taught science enthusiast Charles Maclaren publishes a newspaper article explaining that substantial ice sheets in the northern hemisphere would have lowered global sea level.

1842-P.T. Barnum lures crowds of thousands to see his "Feejee Mermaid."

1843-Louis Agassiz completes Les Poissons Fossiles describing fossil fish of the world. This single monograph increases tenfold the formally described vertebrates known to science.

1843-Based on earlier interpretations by Samuel Thomas von Soemmering, Edward Newman portrays a pterosaur as a furry bat.

1844-Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation is published, arguing that species evolve over time to superior forms, directed by divine intervention. Although it's an immensely popular book, it is considered heretical, and the author (essayist Robert Chambers) keeps his identity secret until his death 27 years later.

1845-The School of Medicine in Paris creates a gallery of comparative anatomy.

1846-Joseph Leidy identifies in pork the parasite that causes trichinosis, a potentially fatal human disease.

1847-Jakob Mathias Schleiden and Theodor Schwann announce that cells are the basic units of all living structures.

1848-The American Association for the Advancement of Science is established.

1848-Richard Owen describes "homologies" — similarities of design in bird wings, fish fins and human hands.

c.1849-Showmen Moses Kimball and P.T. Barnum purchase the contents of the Peale Museum (established in 1784).

1849-Based on a humerus 58 inches in circumference, Mantell names a new dinosaur species: Pelorosaurus, the first recognized sauropod.

1851-1854-Charles Darwin publishes monographs on cirripedes (marine invertebrates including barnacles) in four volumes. His thorough research wins him the Royal Medal.

1853-1854-Under the supervision of Sir Richard Owen, Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins constructs scenes of prehistoric life in Crystal Palace Park.

1856-The first recognized fossil human, a Neanderthal, is discovered near Düsseldorf.

1856-Louis Agassiz publishes Essay on Classification advocating a theory of multiple creations and contradicting both evolution and Noah's ark.

1858-Although he uses different terminology, Alfred Russel Wallace independently reaches the same conclusion as Darwin: natural selection is the driving force behind evolution. Wallace's and Darwin's papers are both read at the same Linnean Society meeting.

1858-The first relatively complete dinosaur skeleton, of Hadrosaurus foulkii, is found in New Jersey.

1858-Rudolf Virchow finalizes the cell theory originally announced by Schleiden and Schwann 11 years earlier by declaring that cells are the basic units of all living things, and all cells are formed by the division of existing cells.

1859-Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species. The initial printing (1,000 copies) sells out in a day.

1859-Catholic priest Jean-Jacques Pouech describes fossil eggshell fragments. They will eventually prove to be the first described dinosaur eggs.

1859-An exceptionally well-preserved skeleton is discovered in Bavaria. Two years later, this bird-like, bipedal dinosaur will be named Compsognathus, meaning "dainty jaw."

1860-John Phillips diagrams the progressive but fluctuating diversity of life on earth based on the fossil record. His work evidences massive extinctions at the end of the Paleozoic and Mesozoic, and increased diversity in each subsequent age.

1861-Civil war breaks out in the United States.

1861-First recognized fossil Archaeopteryx lighographica skeleton is found in the stone quarries of Solnhofen.

1861-In his presidential address to the Geological Society of London, Leonard Horner proposes removing the world's "creation" date of 4004 BC from the English Bible, citing geological evidence of a much older planet.

1862-Lord Kelvin asserts that the earth and sun are cooling from their initial formation, between 20 and 400 million years ago. He will later adopt the smaller number.

1863-Abraham Lincoln forms the National Academy of Sciences.

1863-Alfred Russel Wallace describes the "Wallace line," the dividing line between Indo-Malayan and Austro-Malayan fauna, in Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London.

1863-T.H. Huxley publishes Man's Place in Nature discussing human and primate paleontology, and showing similarities between humans and other animals.

1865-Sir John William Dawson of McGill University identifies "shells" of huge foraminiferal protozoans. Known as Eozoön or "dawn animal," this find is used as an argument against evolution because it shows a relatively "modern" animal early in the fossil record. It will prove, however, to be a geologically young pseudofossil formed by heat and pressure on limestone.

1865-John Lubbock publishes Prehistoric Times arguing that modern Tasmanians and Fuegians are throwbacks to archaic humans.

1866-German zoologist Ernst Haeckel publishes General Morphology of Organisms, the first detailed genealogical tree relating all known organisms, incorporating the principles of Darwinian evolution.

1866-Austrian monk Gregor Mendel proposes his thesis on the basic laws of heredity. His work will be largely ignored until 1900.

1868-Ernst Haeckel publishes Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte, subdividing humanity into 12 separate species. He also asserts that evolution consists of 22 phases, the 21st being the "missing link" between apes and humans.

1868-Thomas Henry Huxley publishes "On the Animals which are Most Nearly Intermediate between Birds and Reptiles," arguing that birds are descendants of dinosaurs. This suggestion will not be taken very seriously for another century.

1868-Three human skulls and other skeletal remains, roughly 30,000 years old, are discovered at a rock shelter called Cro-Magnon (old French for "big hole").

1869-Huxley, Norman Lockyer and others found Nature Magazine, which becomes one of the world's two most important scientific journals. (The other journal is Science.)

1869-Biochemistry graduate student Johann Friedrich Miescher begins examining bandages from hospital patients in hopes of finding something interesting. He eventually succeeds, and determines that cell nuclei are composed of nitrogen, phosphorus and chromatin. He names the substance nuclein.

1870-The rivalry between fossil collectors O.C. Marsh and E.D. Cope turns ugly when Marsh publicly points out Cope's error in reconstructing a fossil marine reptile (putting its head on the tip of its tail). Their rivalry is the public's gain as they try to outdo each other in identifying new dinosaur species — over 130.

1870-O.C. Marsh discovers the first North American pterosaur, from chalk deposits in Kansas. He calculates the wingspan at 20 feet. The following year, he will collect more fossils that confirm this calculation.

1871-Charles Darwin publishes The Descent of Man.

1871-Lord Kelvin suggests that "the germs of life might have been brought to the earth by some meteorite," an idea that will enjoy support a century later.

1873-Francis Galton publishes a paper entitled "Hereditary Improvement" arguing that people "of really good breed" should be encouraged to reproduce while their inferiors should be discouraged from doing so. This, he argues, will improve humanity the way selective breeding improves livestock.

1874-The Hamburg Tierpark features an "anthropological-zoological" display of Lapps acting out "daily life" with reindeer. The show draws enthusiastic crowds.

1876-Charles Doolittle Walcott becomes the first to successfully find and describe elusive trilobite legs, ending speculation about how the animals moved.

1876-Robert Koch validates the germ theory of disease, postulated by Louis Pasteur in the 1860s, and publishes a paper identifying a bacterium as the cause of anthrax.

1877-Comparative anatomy professor François Louis Paul Gervais undertakes thin-section microscopy studies of fossil eggs. His work will be largely forgotten until Roy Chapman Andrews discovers dinosaur eggs in Mongolia in the 1920s.

1877-A new Archaeopteryx fossil is discovered in Solnhofen, complete with a toothy jaw. This well-preserved fossil, which will become known as the Berlin Archaeopteryx, supports Huxley's previous observations about its reptilian affinities.

c.1878-Charlotte Hill collects a well-preserved fossil butterfly, later named Prodryas persephone, from the Florissant Formation in Colorado. The fossil is about 35 million years old.

1878-Entire skeletons of Iguanodon are discovered in Belgium, enabling a more accurate reconstruction of this dinosaur than those of Owen and Waterhouse Hawkins in the 1850s. Engineer-turned-paleontologist Louis Dollo will publish the first of several papers on these fossils in 1882.

1878-Sketches of Creation author Alexander Winchell loses his job at the University of Vanderbilt for suggesting that Adam descended from earlier humans. Winchell's critics are particularly incensed by the notion that Adam's ancestors just might have been black.

1879-Charles Lapworth resolves a priority dispute between Adam Sedgwick and Roderick Murchison by assigning older rocks to the Cambrian (named by Sedgwick), younger rocks to the Silurian (named by Murchison), and naming the Ordivician System in between.

1879-The United States Geological Survey is formed.

1879-Eight-year-old Maria de Sautuola finds a Paleolithic cave drawing of bison on her father's property in Spain. It is the oldest artwork yet discovered, but it will be dismissed as a forgery for years, considered too beautiful to be the work of prehistoric savages.

1882-Karl Alfred von Zittel describes an exceptionally well-preserved pterosaur wing showing flight membranes in detail.

1882-Charles Darwin publishes his final letter to Nature, on the dispersal of freshwater bivalves. His obituary appears the same month.

1883-Geologist James Hall names Cryptozoon, based on cabbagelike rocks up to meter across. Although Hall's biologic interpretation of these structures will be heavily criticized, it will ultimately prove correct.

1886-Geologist Charles Gould publishes Mythical Monsters surveying weird creatures from several cultures and explaining that some myths might have been inspired by fossil remains of extinct animals.

1886-John Bell Hatcher develops the "ant hill method of collecting minute fossils," collecting hundreds of tiny fossil teeth and jaws pushed to the surface by ants. He even carries shovelfuls of ants and sediment to other fossil localities in need of excavation by the arthropods.

1887-Harry Govier Seeley determines that dinosaurs consist of "lizard-hipped" (saurischian) and "bird-hipped" (ornithischian) branches.

1888-German anatomist W. von Waldeyer names chromosomes.

1891-Ethnologist Frank Cushing learns of a Zuni legend explaining how many life forms turned to stone when the earth was young. The Zunis apply this explanation to fossils found in the American southwest.

1894-Eugène Dubois publishes his monograph of Pithecanthropus erectus, or Java Man, a missing link between humans and apes.

1895-A team of paleontologists, including Samuel Williston, Elmer Riggs and Barnum Brown, successfully excavates a Triceratops fossil in Wyoming.

1896-Dublin anatomist Daniel Cunningham concludes that Neanderthals represent an intermediate step between Pithecanthropus erectus and modern humans.

1896-A gelatinous blob washes ashore in St. Augustine, Florida. Cephalopod expert Addison Verrill describes the blob as the remains of a giant octopus but, after examining a tissue sample, reverses his decision and describes it as a decomposing whale.

1897-Renowned physicist Lord Kelvin gives a lecture at London's Victoria Institute claiming that the sun, which is cooling from its initial formation, can be no more than 20 million years old.

1897-Marie Curie begins research of "uranium rays" that will lead to the discovery of radioactivity.

1899-Charles Doolittle Walcott identifies Chuaria, millimeter-sized black fossil disks. He thinks they're compressed shells of marine invertebrates. He's wrong about that, but correct in deducing a biologic origin — the fossils are actually from unusually large planktonic alga.
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