Monday, September 4, 2023

Andrew Carnegie and the Dinosaur Fossil Diplodocus


By Kristy McCaffrey

On December 11, 1898, an issue of the New York Journal featured the drawing of an immense dinosaur peering into the 11th story of the New York Life building. The brontosaur, recently discovered near Sheep’s Creek, Wyoming, was described as “the most colossal animal ever on Earth.” Its stomach was “large enough to hold three elephants,” its “terrible roar could be heard 10 miles away,” and it produced “thunder when it walked.” Andrew Carnegie told the director of the Carnegie Museum, William Holland, to buy the specimen from the University of Wyoming. And so began a hard fight to obtain the skeleton—the University didn’t want to part with it for political reasons.

Holland, however, was able to find another complete skeleton near the first, and the creature was named Diplodocus carnegii, in honor of Andrew Carnegie. Even before the fossil was completely excavated, tourists flocked to the site to see the famous specimen. The bones were shipped back to Pittsburgh in 130 crates. 

Two Diplodocus dinosaurs (and a pterosaur
flying overhead).

Diplodocus was a Jurassic herbivore sauropod dinosaur with a long neck and whip-like tail. The dinosaur rose to international attention when Carnegie had plaster casts made of the fossils and shipped them to Europe, covering the cost to reassemble them. He had ten copies made, sending them to museums in London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Moscow, and Buenos Aires. Diplodocus became a world-wide sensation.

Carnegie used his international replicas to foster collaboration in the scientific community as well as to encourage peaceful political dialogues between countries. But some believe that Carnegie’s hubris was egotistical and hardly helped to stave off World War I.

Today, the original Dippy the Dino resides at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh where it is a local mascot. He even has his own Facebook page.

Don't miss Kristy's latest release, THE CANARY!

Romance and Paleontology in the Old West.

Although not Diplodocus, Jack and Sarah are on the hunt for a dinosaur fossil that would prove the origin of birds while also navigating a marriage of convenience.

An excerpt from The Canary

“Allan thinks the birds can be traced back to the theropods,” Isaac said.

Sarah’s mind raced with the possibilities, and Jack’s silence signaled the same.

Finally, she spoke. “Because of Archaeopteryx?”

“Yes,” Isaac said, his face its usual somber self.

She knew that fossils of Archaeopteryx, found over thirty years ago in Germany, were of a primitive bird-like dinosaur with evidence of feathers.

“But not everyone believes that birds were dinosaurs,” she said. “Some say Archaeopteryx is a missing link between the two but that doesn’t mean it’s true.”

Jack said, “Dinosauria is divided into two clades: Ornithischia and Saurischia. And everyone has always believed the birds to have evolved from the first, not the theropods of the second. But if it’s true ….”

Archaeopteryx was a theropod that lived during the Jurassic,” Isaac said, “so Allan kept thinking … what came before? Could he prove a connection to something in the Triassic?”

“Has my father spoken about this?” Jack asked.

“Not publicly, no. He wanted to find proof. But I’m guessing he has in private, which is how Dr. Pierce no doubt heard about it.”

Sarah was a bit stunned, and for the first time since arriving she wondered if she was in the wrong place. She had admired Dr. Allan Brenner and the work he’d done in the quarries in Wyoming and the fossils he’d excavated from this area, but was she now to be associated with a man who might be committing career suicide?

Learn more and read Chapter One at Kristy's website


Shanna Hatfield said...

So interesting, Kristy! Thank you for sharing with us!

Kristy McCaffrey said...

Thanks Shanna!!