Bone Wars

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Think about dinosaurs. Which one did you think about? Was it the triceratops, the allosaurus, the stegosaurus, or maybe one of those long necked bastards? Well, whatever one you thought about, there's a good chance that the only way you know about it is because of two crazy dumb ass sons of bitches named Edward Cope and Othniel Marsh.

Prior to the nineteenth century nobody really gave a shit about dinosaurs. Sometimes people would find giant lizard bones in the ground, but mostly they would just shrug, assume it was a dragon or some such shit, and get back on with their day. However, things quickly began to change when scientists began to science up things, calling the new area of study paleontology. However, paleontology was not all that popular or interesting to the public at first, probably because it brought up uncomfortable questions regarding exactly how giant lizards from millions of years ago lined up with the whole Adam and Eve thing. It was at this time that two men named Cope and Marsh got involved in the field.

Cope and Marsh couldn't have been any different if they tried. Cope, a quick tempered man, was born wealthy, allowing him to get the finest of old timey educations. Marsh, a methodical man, was born dirt poor, but luckily had a rich uncle who took a liking to him in his teenage years. Marsh's uncle liked him so much that he built Marsh a museum. Also, thanks to Marsh's uncle thinking all women were crazy bitches, Marsh inherited a butt load of money upon his uncle's death, which allowed him to basically do whatever the hell he felt like. For whatever reason, both men chose to get into paleontology. At first, Cope and Marsh got along well, or as least as well as could be expected given they were both insufferable asses. However, things quickly soured when Marsh started bribing Cope's workers to send him fossils, and then very publicly pointed out that Cope had accidentally put the head on the wrong end of a recently discovered dinosaur, which was a pretty sick burn in paleontologist circles.

Things became worse when new fossil discoveries started being made across the Western United States, sparking a veritable rush for paleontological prestige. However, just heading out west was a little dangerous, given the hostile tribes of Native Americans. Both men solved this in unique ways. Cope by getting a bullshit government surveying job and Marsh by basically just hiring a bunch of grad students and giving them guns. This kicked off nearly thirty years of competitive fossil hunting, with both men eager to discover as many new species as possible before the other could. Now if you're thinking this was probably a friendly rivalry, then you would be an idiot. At first it started small, such as bribing each other's employees or digging in areas claimed by the other. Then it began to escalate, with both trying to claim the discovery of a species at the same time, each using a different name. Then things just got ugly. Both sides began burying or blowing up digging sites to keep the other from getting to it, random bones were just slapped together haphazardly and claimed to be a new species, and workers even resorted to throwing rocks at each other. Such shenanigans quickly got out to the press, and the wondering public suddenly found dinosaurs not as boring as they had once seemed.

Cope and Marsh kept up their rivalry throughout their lives, breaking each other both professionally and financially. Both men spent their later years surrounded by hoarded yet to be cataloged fossils, spending most of their times spreading nasty rumors about each other. Cope was the first to die. As a final fuck you, Cope claimed his brain was bigger than Marsh's and donated his skull to science upon his death to prove it. Marsh, perhaps finally growing up a little, did not rise to the challenge, being buried with his head still firmly in place.