Joseph Leidy

joseph leidy
Joseph Leidy (Wikimedia Commons).

Name:

Joseph Leidy

Born/Died:

1823-1891

Nationality:

American

Dinosaurs Named:

Hadrosaurus, Troodon

 

About Joseph Leidy

Like many 19th century fossil hunters, Joseph Leidy was a generalist rather than a specialist. As professor of anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania and professor of natural history at Swarthmore College, he investigated and described all sorts of life forms, ranging from microbes to dinosaurs and early mammals, and he was also an early expert in parasites.

It's said that he was the first forensic detective, once using his microscope to conclusively prove that an incriminating blood stain came from a human being, and not, as the accused murderer insisted, a chicken--which would make him the great-grandfather of CSI, Bones, and countless other TV crime dramas. As if that weren't enough, Leidy also proved that the dreadful disease trichinosis is caused by a parasite in undercooked pork, and was a renowned gem collector.

In dinosaur circles, Leidy is most famous for naming (but not discovering) Hadrosaurus, an almost-intact fossil of which was unearthed in New Jersey in 1858 (just a year before Charles Darwin published his seminal book On the Origin of Species; Leidy was an early advocate of the theory of evolution). Later in his life, Leidy retired from vertebrate paleontology, possibly because he grew tired of the endless feuding between his famous student Edward Drinker Cope and Cope’s archrival, Othniel C. Marsh, a sordid interlude in paleontology known as the Bone Wars.

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Strauss, Bob. "Joseph Leidy." ThoughtCo, Jan. 27, 2016, thoughtco.com/joseph-leidy-1092528. Strauss, Bob. (2016, January 27). Joseph Leidy. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/joseph-leidy-1092528 Strauss, Bob. "Joseph Leidy." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/joseph-leidy-1092528 (accessed November 19, 2017).