African Dinosaurs Unearthed
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411 pages

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The story of expeditions into Africa in search of dinosaur bones.

From 1907 to 1931 at Tendaguru, a remote site in present-day Tanzania, teams of German (and later British) paleontologists unearthed 220 tons of fossils, including the bones of a new dinosaur, one of the largest then known. For decades the mounted skeleton of this giant, Brachiosaurus, was the largest skeleton of a land animal on exhibit in the world. The dinosaur and other animal fossils found at Tendaguru form one of the cornerstones of our understanding of life in the Mesozoic era. Visited sporadically during the '30s and '40s, Tendaguru again became the site of scientific interest late in the 20th century. African Dinosaurs Unearthed tells the story of driven scientific adventurers working under difficult conditions and often paying the price with their health—and sometimes with their lives. Set against the background of a troubled century, the book reveals how scientific endeavors were carried on through war and political turmoil, and continue into the present day.

Preliminary Table of Contents:
1. 1907: Fraas and Something Curious in the African Bush
2. 1908: Von Branca and a Matter of National Honour
3. 1909: Janensch, Hennig, and a Cemetery of Giants
4. 1909-1910: Geology in the Rain and Comets, Stegosaurs, and Iguanodonts
5. 1911: Along the Railway and Expansion, Exhaustion, and Completion?
6. 1911-1912: A Museum Overflows - The Recks find Iguanodonts, Pterosaurs, and a Fossilized Forest
7. 1913-1918: Fresh Discoveries and a Bitter War
8. 1919-1924: The British Museum in Tanganyika Territory
9. 1924-1925: Cutler, Leakey, and a Difficult Start
10. 1925: Berlin Builds Dinosaurs
11. 1925: A Death in Africa
12. 1925: Migeod - A New Recruit
13. 1925-1926: An Expedition Saved
14. 1926-1927: Berlin in Chaos and Parkinson Reviews Stratigraphy
15. 1927-1929: Kenyan Interlude, Geology at Tendaguru, and Desperate Finances
16. 1929: Migeod Returns
17. 1930: Migeod and Parrington, Tendaguru and Nyasaland
18. 1931-1939: Hennig Returns and Berlin's Museum Triumphs
19. 1939-1976: Destruction and Renewal
20. 1971-2001: Russell to Africa, Brachiosaurus to Tokyo, Berlin to Tendaguru
21. A Significant Contribution



Publié par
Date de parution 02 juillet 2003
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780253000545
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0500€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Gerhard Maier
Indiana University Press 601 North Morton Street Bloomington, IN 47404-3797 USA
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© 2003 by Gerhard Maier
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The Association of American University Presses’ Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition.
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1984.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Maier, Gerhard, date African dinosaurs unearthed : the Tendaguru expeditions / Gerhard Maier. p. cm. — (Life of the past) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-253-34214-7 (alk. paper) 1. Animals, Fossil—Tanzania. 2. Paleontology—Mesozoic. 3. Scientific expeditions—Tanzania—History—20th century. I. Title. II. Series. QE731 .M25 2003 560’.9678—dc21 2002015732

1  2  3  4  5  08  07  06  05  04  03

Who understood bow important it was .
  1. 1907 | Something Curious in the African Bush
  2. 1908 | A Matter of National Honor
  3. 1909 | A Cemetery of Giants
  4. 1909–1910 | Geology in the Rain
  5. 1911 | Along the Railway
  6. 1911–1912 | A Museum Overflows
  7. 1913–1918 | Fresh Discoveries and a Bitter War
  8. 1919–1924 | The British Museum in Tanganyika Territory
  9. 1924–1925 | Cutler, Leakey, and a Difficult Start
10. 1925 | Berlin Builds Dinosaurs
11. 1925 | A Death in Africa
12. 1925 | A New Recruit
13. 1925–1926 | An Expedition Saved
14. 1926–1927 | Berlin in Chaos
15. 1927–1929 | Geology at Tendaguru
16. 1929 | Migeod Returns
17. 1930 | Migeod and Parrington, Tendaguru and Nyasaland
18. 1931–1939 | Berlin’s Museum Triumphs
19. 1939–1976 | Destruction and Renewal
20. 1971–2001 | Russell to Africa, Brachiosaurus to Tokyo, Berlin to Tendaguru
21. A Significant Contribution
Photographs follow pages 82 and 178.
More than two dozen principalities on a plain bordering a northern sea unite to form a country that rapidly became prosperous. People in the new country, seeking adventure and knowledge, begin to explore a region located on a continent in the distant tropics. A man searching for minerals there finds pieces of giant bones near a “steep hill.” The amazing discovery comes to the attention of a professor who lives in the northern country. He has seen huge bones taken from the ground and assembled into giant skeletons in another country beyond an ocean to the west. The professor travels over land and sea to the distant hill in the tropics and finds huge quantities of giant bones scattered over the ground. Very excited, he returns to his country and tells the director of a famous museum about the hill with all the bones. The director speaks to princes, to community leaders, and to captains of industry. They all agree that an expedition should be sent to the faraway hill in the tropics.
In such manner began the greatest intercontinental expedition ever to collect dinosaurs. The discovery was made in 1907 at Tendaguru in what is now southeastern Tanzania, thirty-six years after the unification of Germany. The centenary of the discovery is now approaching. The story of that expedition and the British expedition that followed may be told in numbers: funding, people, ledgers, specimens, casts, boxes, and weights. These details are important, for they address the scope and results of the excavations. But with only that information, the story would remain incomplete—more fundamental is the fire that caused people to dedicate themselves to its success.
It was a question of national honor. German researchers who participated in the expedition later died in the defense of their colony. A dinosaur, Dryosaurus lettow-vorbecki , was named in homage to the officer who directed its defense. Has any other dinosaur ever been named after a general? Many years later, old men could be found in the Tanzanian bundu (bush) who would proudly say, “Once I was a German soldier.” After a war and a depression, a German paleontologist returned to “Steep Hill” to be warmly welcomed by men who had worked there in the quarries. A leader of British excavations humbly confessed his ignorance of bone morphology and requested instruction that never came; another worked until he died. How often it was said of a European that he labored in the tropical lowlands of east Africa “until his health was broken.” And how many families, German, English, and Tanzanian, were separated by months and years of fatigue and loneliness because of the giant bones of Tendaguru.
For Germany, the half-century from 1909 included nearly thirteen years of totalitarian government, ten years of disastrous war, and ten years of economic turmoil. Museums and collections were destroyed; the scientific community and their families were decimated by death and emigration. Yet the period also saw the cleaning and preservation of Tendaguru fossils through an effort equal to half that invested in the field work; the construction of five dinosaur mounts, including one that remains the largest reconstructed dinosaur skeleton in the world; and the publication of the expedition’s monographs. Paleontological research rose from the ashes.
Much has been written about good government, and history amply demonstrates that it is humanity’s greatest challenge. Similarly, the heroic efforts at Tendaguru are worthy of the attention of those who would collect dinosaurs. They were inspired by love of country and a love of knowledge. To keep that vision clean, it was necessary to compensate as much as possible for an array of inevitable human failings. At Tendaguru, success followed the clear identification of individual responsibilities, and the encouragement of collegiality and consultation. In a multicultural setting, multilingual participants were essential. So was adequate nourishment.
In modern laboratories, lined with expensive technological devices, researchers still probe the contents of casts made so long ago at Tendaguru. Their vision is enormously extended by their instruments. They see and understand the implications of microscopic spores and pollen, of microlaminae of bone deposited in osteons, of mineral particles, and even of isotopes of atoms. The detail on such small scales seems to collapse the separation in time between the researchers and the archaic materials they study to zero.
On a human scale, missionaries, health workers, and teachers continue to labor in the service of others in the region of the faraway hill in the tropics. Across the bundu , the dry season prevails. Leafless forests are compressed between a burned-grass floor and a vault of electric blue. The bite of the tsetse fly is powerful, and that of the mosquito, lethal. Nearby, but 150 million years away in time, forests of flowerless trees line a subtropical coast. Their sparse crowns decorated with sinuous, reptilian fronds are slowly being stripped by giraffoid giants. On tidal wetlands between the forest and the sea, huge, dismembered bones and broken, knife-like teeth lie baking beneath a younger dry-season sun. The stench of decay, of both vegetation and flesh, wafts through the salty air.
The apparent rupture is artificial, for the two scenes are bound together in a continuum of space and time. The continuum lies at the root of the mystery of our existence within a world that vastly exceeds human dimensions and lifespans. A conviction that the multidimensionality of space-time is understandable and that knowledge is useful, opens the world to exploration. The effort will be costly, but the cost will be eclipsed by what is gained. The epic of the great expedition is now lost in time. It will never be repeated, for only the birth of a country could have sustained it. Its memory, however, lingers in those who cherish it, and in the fortunate few who can say, “Once, I too climbed Tendaguru Hill.”
In the book that follows, the author expertly and compassionately describes the saga that began with Bernhard Sattler’s discovery of immense bones in the bundu .
Dale Russell
December 2002
The region surrounding a small hill in southern Tanzania, known as Tendaguru, became famous almost a century ago. An intensive search for the remains of enormous Jurassic dinosaurs took place there between 1907 and 1931. Many hundreds of Africans were organized—first by German, then by British paleontologists—to unearth over two hundred tonnes of bones. The expeditions were multidisciplinary in nature, examining the geology and stratigraphy of the area and of other regions of the country.
German fieldwork was ter

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