Florentino Ameghino incorrectly claimed humans evolved in Argentina. But many of his contemporaries claimed he was both an uneducated science novice and possibly a fraud. Did Ameghino make mistakes or did he willingly lie to fit evidence into his nationalistic views?
Florentino Ameghino is a controversial figure in paleontology. He demonstrated that South America was home to many unique mammal fossils, disproved biased paleontological theories, but also thought humans evolved in Argentina. Here I talk about this amazing, and controversial, figure.
Paleontology in Latin America has until recently been marked by Europeans and Americans taking fossils without giving credit to local scientists. This is sometimes called colonial paleontology and is a main reason why paleontology lacks diversity.
The letters between Ibn Sina and his rival al-Briuni show the Islamic world of the 9th and 10th Centuries was rich in scientific achievement. Both men were also avid geologists and made significant contributions to our understanding of the Earth. Their story proves the Islamic world has been a source of geologic knowledge for centuries.
Who invented geology? That question is harder to answer than you think. In this post, I write about James Hutton, Comte de Buffon, Nicolas Steno, and Rene Descartes, and suggest that even though Ibn Sina beat them to the punch, nobody really invented geology. Fundamental principles of geology have just been derived by different people in different times and places because of geology’s universal nature.
Ibn Sina was a Persian scientist who in the 1000’s invented the geologic concepts of superposition and uniformitarianism. He also correctly deduced how fossils were formed and used them to reconstruct Earth’s history. He has a good claim to be the true “founding father” of geology.
Franz Nopcsa was a baron, spy, and paleontologist who was nearly crowned King of Albania. He made many discoveries that were ahead of his time and founded the science of paleobiology. Yet you have likely never heard of him.
Annie Alexander went on several paleontological expeditions in the early 1900’s. These trips highlight the difficulties that women face in the field. I use her story as a backdrop to discuss discrimination in the field today and how in many ways it has not improved since Alexander’s 1905 “Saurian Expedition.”
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