…aneb procvičte si angličtinu
Každý vědní obor má své dějiny. Paleontologie je věda, která vzhledem ke svému zaměření a mírnému (nebo i většímu) rozporu s oficiálním učením církve vznikla poměrně pozdě, až počátkem 19. století. Oproti takové matematice nebo astronomii s dějinymi dlouhými celá tisíciletí je to samozřejmě velmi krátká doba, nicméně pochopitelná vzhledem k metodice výzkumu a společenským okolnostem. Až před oněmi ca. dvěma sty lety lidé pochopili zákonitosti ukládání sedimetů a pravou povahu zkamenělin. Autorita církve až do samého konce 18. věku nedovolovala jinou než oficiální interpretaci minulosti světa, která byla samozřejmě nahony vzdálená skutečnosti. Paleontologie získala kredit vlastně až po objevení populárních a atraktivních dinosaurů, jejichž kostry přesvědčily během 19. století všechny návštěvníky muzeí v Británii a Novém Světě o pravdivosti tezí prvních průkopníků tohoto krásného oboru.
Paleontologie vznikla před 200 lety, ale fosílie sbírali lidé už před velmi dávnou dobou, vlastně také již v pravěku. A právě popis této proto-paleontologie v důležitých datech přináší následující tabulka. Vypracoval jsem ji v poněkud lámané a možná ne zcela korektní angličtině z důvodu publikace na DML. Výběr událostí je čistě subjektivní, ale měl by pokrývat skutečně hlavní a důležité události. Tabulka končí rokem 1842, kdy dinosauři dostávají své jméno. Mladší historie už by byla příliš rozsáhlá a komplexní na takovýto strohý popis. Ostatně cílem je popsat dějiny sběru fosílií před oficiálním ustanovením paleontologie jakožto vědního oboru. Takže procvičujte angličtinu a kochejte se historií poznávání zkamenělin před skutečným pochopením jejich významu (je to fascinující a také lehce zábavná část historie vědy):
Older Paleolite (Stone Age, app. 1.0 - 0.25 Ma ago) - for the first time in history, Man (Homo erectus) is collecting fossils for aesthetic and perhaps some practical purpose (from about 800.000 years ago?)
Middle Paleolite (Stone Age, app. 250.000-40.000 yrs ago) - Homo sapiens still collects fossils, there are depots of fossilized shells dated to about 80.000-70.000 years ago.
In some Burgund caves (France) similar depots of fossilized mollusk shells collected 50.000 years ago have been found.
Neanderthals (H. s. neanderthalensis) were making necklaces from them.
Neolite (app. 8.000-5.000 BCE) - collections of fossilized fish and shark teeth in Egypt.
Bronze Age (app. 3.000-1.000 BCE) - another collection of shark teeth (extinct *Precarcharodon*) on Malta.
3.000-2.000 BCE - travellers on the famous Silk road encountered dinosaur fossils for the first time. Their reports gave rise to the old Babylonian myths of Gryphon (or Griffon), Sirush and other mythical animals/ Cave printings of
animals making dinosaur tracks in SW Africa/ Indians living in western areas underlain by mesozoic sedimentary rocks explained dinosaur bones as the remains of former animals (also thought of large tertiary mammals, like *Uintatherium*,
as of "thunder horses").
16th Century BCE - in ancient China first mentions of dinosaur bones in medical texts (thought of as „Dragon" bones).
1.000-500 BCE - ancient Greeks already knew fossils and even exhibited some of them in their temples. Central nasal holes in skulls of prehistoric dwarf elephants (_Elephas falconeri_) were the source for Homer's Cyclops.
Some fossils were also such source for legends of Giants, or giant animals (mammoth tusks gave rise to a legend of giant boar).
Anaximander of Miletus (610-546 BCE), Xenophanes of Colophon (565-470 BCE) and Empedocles of Acragas (492-432 BCE) were already speculating about fossils and also collected them.
They didn't have the right idea of their nature yet (generatio aequivoca).
300 BCE - first description of a dinosaur fossil appears in the book „Hua Yang Guo Zhi" from chinese scholar Zhang Qu of Western Jin Dynasty.
Qu describes the find of a "dragon" (kong-long - „terrible dragon") bones in Wucheng, current province of Sichuan
(Some sources date this event also as 300 AD/CE).
Villagers in central China have been digging up dinosaur bones for decades, thinking they were from dragons, to make traditional medicine.
1st Century BCE - Hellene geographer and historian Strabon (ca. 64 BCE-19 CE) discovers that nummulites are not „lenses", but remnants of former animals/
Emperror Augustus (63 BCE-14 CE, ruled 31 BCE-14CE) had a collection of large fossil bones housed in his villa.
He though they were remains of an extinct race of humans related to the gods.
1st Century CE - Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE) assigned fossil shark teeth as "tongue stones" (glossopetrae), thought as falling from the sky. He also gave name to ammonites, according to the horns of egyptian god Amon.
414 - chinese buddhist monk Fa Hsien (ca. 337-422) mentions dinosaur bones from the Gobi desert in writings from his travels ("The Record of Buddhist Kingdoms").
5th Century - one of patres ecclesiae (Church Fathers), Aurelianus Augustus (St. Augustine, 354-430) collected fossils, which he thought of as belonging to some giant human race.
10th Century - now extinct Moa living in New Zealand gave rise to the tales of a giant bird Rukh (Roc, or Noh) in famous Arabian nights./ Fossils of phorurshracid _Titanis walleri_ were perhaps the base for indian tales of "thunderbird".
14th Century - italian poet and writer Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) discovered some giant bones, which he though of as belonging to mythical cyclope Polyphemos.
15th/16th Century - Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) is the first person in history to understand the true nature of fossils. He never unveiled his correct thoughts to the public.
1556 - swiss naturalist Konrad von (Conrad) Gessner (1516-1565) depicted all then known fossils in his book, but he was far from understanding their true nature.
1576 - first mention of a mammoth bones in the Czech city of Predmosti u Prerova (dictionary „Gramatica bohemica").
1590 - medieval Europe was full of stories about dragons.
The head of a dragon sculptured by Ulrich Vogelsang for the city of Klagenfurt, Austria was modeled on a "dragon skull" found by quarrymen in 1335. It is now realised to become from an Ice Age wooly rhinoceros./
Mount Pilatus in Switzerland abounds in pterodactyl fossils, and with stories of fight between men and dragonets - small, scrawny winged dragons.
Dinosaur fossils were generally believed to be the remains of giants and other creatures killed by the Great Flood.
1665 - german Jesuit scientist Athanasius Kircher (1601/2-1680) writes "Underground world" (Mundus subterraneus), first printed work on geophysics and vulcanology, he also mentions dragons and big lizzards in it.
1666 - danish anatomist and geologist Nicholaus Steno (1638-1686) realises that "glossopetrae" are not serpent tongues turned to stone, but were instead teeth that once belonged to sharks/
In about the same time british biologist Robert Hooke (1635-1703) is the first person ever to examine fossils with a microscope/ Both men already understood the process of fossilization.
1676/7 - first published record of a dinosaur bone (described as a giant human (elephant?) thigh bone) by british vicar and professor of chemistry Robert Plot (1640-1696), first custodian of the Old Ashmolean museum.
1699 - head keeper of the Ashmolean museum from 1690, Edward Lhuyd (1670-1709) assignes name to cetiosaurid tooth, *Rutellum implicatum* (today, it's nomen oblitum),
this is first scientific name ever assigned to a dinosaur fossil.
1726 - german naturalist Johann Beringer (1667-1740) describes fauna of „lying stones", after revealing of this hoax, science starts more rigorous approach towards fossils.
1728 - first cataloguing of a dinosaur bone by John Woodward (1665-1728), british naturalist, physician and geologist.
1763 - Richard Brooks reillustrates Plot's bone which he names *Scrotum humanum* (as a descriptive appelation). In 1768 Jean Baptiste Robinet described the specimen a real scrotum.
1770 - In Maastricht, Netherlands, giant skull of a mosasaur had been found. In 1795, during the Napoleonic wars, it was carried to Paris, where Georges Cuvier (1769-1832) examined it.
In 1828, he finally described it as _Mosasaurus hoffmani_.
1784 - first discovery of pterosaurs (later described as Pterodactylus) in Germany.
1787 - thigh bone of a dinosaur found in New Jersey, USA.
1795, 21st January - giant bones were found in France. Cuvier examined them, concluded it was from an elephant, brought here by the Romans.
1799 - first well preserved mammoth fossil was found by a hunter of the Tungus tribe in Russia.
1802/3 - discovery of fossilized tracks with 31 cm long footprints by Pliny Moody in New England. One set of footprints thought of as to be from biblical "Noah's raven".
1806 - famous Lewis and Clark expedition finds dinosaur bones near Billings, Montana.
1809 - Iguanodon bones found in Cuckfield, Great Britain, by the famous geologist William Smith (1769-1839).
1811 - Mary Anning (1799-1847), later "fossil lady" finds first ichthyosaur in Lyme Regis, South England.
1815 - british geologist William Smith published the first geologic map of England, which formed the basis of biostratigraphy.
1818 - first dinosaur skeleton found in USA (likely that of a prosauropod Anchisaurus).
1819 - british surgeon and paleontologist Gideon Algernon Mantell (1790-1852) mentions fossils of Iguanodon (as "Proteo-saurus"). „Officially", he found them in 1822.
1823 - first fossilized coprolite found by rev. William Buckland (1784-1856), described later.
1824, February 20th - world's first description of a recognized dinosaur fossil (although the term "dinosaur" didn't exist yet) by rev. William Buckland during his lecture (theropod Megalosaurus)
1825 1st May - in his work "Fossils of the South Downs" G. A. Mantell describes ornithopod Iguanodon (second dinosaur genus ever to be described).
1832/3 - G. A. Mantell describes Hylaeosaurus, third dinosaur genus to be described, these three genera are mentioned as dinosaurs in Richard Owen's (1804-1892) 1842 work (before this event also Streptospondylus-1830(?),
Thecodontosaurus-1836/43, Plateosaurus-1837, Poekilopleuron-1838, Laelaps=Dryptosaurus-1839 and Cetiosaurus-1841/2 were described, but also "Ceratops"-1815 and "Protorosaurus"-1830).
1830/33 - sir Charles Lyell (1797-1875) published „Principles in Geology" in three volumes, this marks the basis of geology.
1836 - american naturalist Edward B. Hitchcock (1793-1864) reported the discovery of tracks of what he believed were giant birds from late Triassic deposits of the Connecticut Valley.
The tracks were first found by Pliny Moody back in 1802/3.
1841 2nd September - british scientist Richard Owen on his lecture teaches about primeval reptiles, still not using name Dinosauria for Megalosaurus, Iguanodon and Hylaeosaurus.
1842 - the same scientist names Megalosaurus, Iguanodon and Hylaeosaurus dinosaurs - members of the group *Dinosauria* (fearfully great lizzards).