FIRST FOSSIL in New Zealand's Te Papa
5000 years ago (or he is a trickster god who buries fake fossils
in order to have fun with atheists!) -- is held in New Zealand
Listen to this talk, and hear the Authority brag about it!!
4. Age of The Earth: The Victorians
How is the age of a rock or a fossil determined? The answer has much to do with the amazing discoveries of Lord Rutherford and Albert Einstein. Thanks to the amazing intellect of these scientists and their Victorian colleagues, humanity discovered how to decipher Earth's history. No longer could rock be perceived as dusty, boring, hard grey matter and geologists as quaint nutters with hammers. Rocks, minerals and fossils are the memory banks of our planet.
Hamish Campbell will discuss a number of exciting earth science research projects: the age of New Zealand's oldest rocks, the origin of New Zealand's oldest sedimentary rocks, the age of the New Zealand land surface, the age of the Chatham Islands, the characterisation of New Zealand nephrite (pounamu) on the basis of age, and not least, the age of the Earth itself.
Dr Hamish Campbell, Geological and Nuclear Sciences/Te Papa.
(join the two lines)
Gideon Algernon Mantell MRCS FRS (Lewes, 3 February 1790 . London, 10 November 1852) was an English obstetrician, geologist and palaeontologist. His attempts to reconstruct the structure and life of Iguanodon began the scientific study of dinosaurs: in 1822 he was responsible for the discovery (and the eventual identification) of the first fossil teeth, and later much of the skeleton, of Iguanodon. Mantell's work on the Cretaceous of southern England was also important.
Mantell was born in Lewes, Sussex as the fifth-born child of Thomas Mantell, a shoemaker, and Sarah Austen. He was raised in a small cottage in St. Mary's Lane with his two sisters and four brothers. As a youth, he showed a particular interest in the field of geology. He explored pits and quarries in the surrounding areas, discovering ammonites, shells of sea urchins, fish bones, coral, and worn-out remains of dead animals. The Mantell children could not study at local grammar schools because the elder Mantell was a follower of the Methodist church and the 12 free schools were reserved for only those who had been brought up in the Anglican faith. As a result, Gideon was educated at a dame school in St. Mary's Lane, and learned basic reading and writing from an old woman. After the death of his teacher, Mantell was schooled by John Button, a philosophically radical Whig who shared similar political beliefs with Mantell's father. Mantell spent two years with Button, before being sent to his uncle, a Baptist minister, in Swindon, for a period of private study.
Mantell returned to Lewes at age 15. With the help of a local Whig party leader, Mantell secured an apprenticeship with a local surgeon named James Moore. He served as an apprentice to Moore in Lewes for a period of five years, in which he took care of Mantell's dining, lodging and medical issues. Mantell's early apprenticeship duties included cleaning vials, as well as separating and arranging drugs. Soon, he learned how to make pills and other pharmaceutical products. He delivered Moore's medicines, kept his accounts, wrote out bills and extracted teeth from his patients. On July 11, 1807, Thomas Mantell died at the age of 57. He willed his son with some money for his future studies. As his time with the apprenticeship began to wind down, he began to anticipate his medical education. He began to teach himself human anatomy, and he ultimately detailed his new-found knowledge in a volume entitled The Anatomy of the Bones, and the Circulation of Blood, which contained dozens of detailed drawings of fetal and adult skeletal features. Soon, Mantell began his formal medical education in London. He received his diploma as a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1811. Four days later, he received a certificate from the Lying-in Charity for Married Women at Their Own Habitations that allowed him to act in midwifery duties.
Inspired by Mary Anning's sensational discovery of a fossilised animal resembling a huge crocodile (later identified as an ichthyosaur) at Lyme Regis in Dorset, Mantell became passionately interested in the study of the fossilised animals and plants found in his area. The fossils he had collected from the region, known as The Weald in Sussex, were from the chalk downlands covering the county. The chalk is part of the Upper Cretaceous Period and the fossils it contains are marine in origin. But by 1819, Mantell had begun acquiring fossils from a quarry, at Whitemans Green, near Cuckfield. These included the remains of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, at a time when all the known fossil remains from Cretaceous England, hitherto, were marine in origin. He named the new strata the Strata of Tilgate Forest, after an historical wooded area and it was later shown to belong to the Lower Cretaceous.
By 1820, he had started to find very large bones at Cuckfield, even larger than those discovered by William Buckland, at Stonesfield in Oxfordshire. Then, in 1822, shortly before finishing his first book (The Fossils of South Downs), his wife found several large teeth (although some historians contend that they were in fact discovered by himself), the origin of which he could not identify. In 1821 Mantell planned his next book on the geology of Sussex. It was an immediate success with two hundred subscribers including a letter from king George IV at Carlton house palace which read "His majesty is pleased to command that his name should be placed at the head of the subscription list for four copies."
How the king heard of Mantell is unknown, but Mantell's response is. Galvanised and encouraged, Mantell showed the teeth to other scientists but they were dismissed as belonging to a fish or mammal and from a more recent rock layer than the other Tilgate Forest fossils. The eminent French anatomist, Georges Cuvier, identified the teeth as those of a rhinoceros.
Although according to Charles Lyell, Cuvier made this statement after a late party and apparently had some doubts when reconsidering the matter when he awoke, fresh in the morning. "The next morning he told me that he was confident that it was something quite different." Strangely, this change of opinion did not make it back to Britain where Mantell was mocked for his error. Mantell was still convinced that the teeth had come from the Mesozoic strata and finally recognized that they resembled those of the iguana, but were twenty times larger. He surmised that the owner of the remains must have been at least 60 feet (18 metres) in length.
He tried in vain to convince his peers that the fossils were from Mesozoic strata, by carefully studying rock layers. William Buckland famously disputed Mantell's assertion, by claiming that the teeth were of fish.
When it was proved Mantell was correct the only question was what to call his new reptile. His original name was "Iguana-saurus" but he then received a letter from William Daniel Conybeare, "Your discovery of the analogy between the Iguana and the fossil teeth is very interesting but the name you propose will hardly do, because it is equally applicable to the recent iguana. Iguanoides or Iguanodon would be better." Mantell took this advice to heart and called his creature Iguanodon.
Years later, Mantell had acquired enough fossil evidence to show that the dinosaur's forelimbs were much shorter than its hind legs, therefore proving they were not built like a mammal as claimed by Sir Richard Owen. Mantell went on to demonstrate that fossil vertebrae, which Owen had attributed to a variety of different species, all belonged to Iguanodon. He also named a new genus of dinosaur called Hylaeosaurus and as a result became an authority on prehistoric reptiles.
In 1833, Mantell relocated to Brighton but his medical practice suffered. He was almost rendered destitute, but for the town's council who promptly transformed his house into a museum. The museum in Brighton ultimately failed as a result of Mantell's habit of waiving the entrance fee. Finally destitute, Mantell offered to sell the entire collection to the British Museum, in 1838, for £5,000, accepting the counter-offer of £4,000. He moved to Clapham Common in South London, where he continued his work as a doctor.
Mary Mantell left her husband in 1839. That same year, Gideon's son Walter emigrated to New Zealand. Walter later sent his father some important fossils from New Zealand. Gideon's daughter, Hannah, died in 1840.
In 1852, Mantell took an overdose of opium and later lapsed into a coma. He died that afternoon. His post-mortem showed that he had been suffering from scoliosis. Richard Owen, his long-time nemesis, had a section of Mantell's spine removed, pickled and stored on a shelf at the Royal College of Surgeons of England. It remained there until 1969 when it was destroyed due to lack of space .
Mantell's surgery, on the south side of Clapham Common, is now a dental surgery.Stumble It!