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Old 10-28-2012, 01:46 AM   #1
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Peale, Rembrandt: An Historical Disquisition on the Mammoth, V1, 27 Oct. 2012

Although chiefly remembered for his portraits, many of which are located in the U. S. government buildings of Washington, Rembrandt Peale’s (1778 - 1860) interest in sciences was evident in his earliest published material. His most important published scientific work is presented in this epub An Historical Disquisition on the Mammoth (1803).

It began in 1801 when he accompanied his father to the peat bogs of Orange County, New York. (Peale’s Barber Farm Mastodon Exhumation Site, near Montgomery, New York, that was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on October 20, 2009, because of Peale’s work). At this site they collected numerous mastodon (Peale’s mammoth) bones. Unlike previous collectors of similar bones, their goal was to collect a complete skeleton so they carefully cataloged all the bones. Rembrandt helped assemble the bones of one skeleton for display in his father’s Philadelphia museum (it seems generally accepted that this was the first complete assembly of fossil skeleton in the United States, and probably the second in the world), and of another for a traveling exhibit. In this short book, he vividly describes the efforts made in collecting the fossils. He also presented details of the bones, and used them in trying to understand the nature of the mastodon. In the publication he correctly concluded that the animals whose bones he and his father discovered lived a partially aquatic life. Peale, however, also concluded that the mastodon was a carnivore, a later discredited conclusion. The publicity resulting from an exhibition of a complete mastodon skeleton helped in the general acceptance of the paleontologic conclusion that many life forms have become extinct during the past; this conclusion was hotly debated during the early 1800s because many scientists maintained that such a belief was contrary to the Bible's teachings.

I’ve also included in the epub a reproduction of the famous painting Exhumation of the Mastodon (1806-1808) by his father C. W. Peale illustrating how these fossils were obtained.
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File Type: epub Disquisition on the Mammoth.epub (4.34 MB, 110 views)

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