American Experience: Dinosaur Wars
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Dinosaur Wars, from producer Mark Davis, is the story of two talented scientists, O.C. Marsh and Edward Cope, whose once professional rivalry soured into a bitter personal feud. Together, Marsh and Cope were responsible for identifying more than 142 different species and for introducing dinosaurs into the American imagination, but their legacy would be forever marred by two decades of ruthless infighting, espionage, and sabotage.
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
"Dinosaur Wars" is a nicely done PBS Special focusing on the rivalry between Victorian-era paleontologists Othniel Charles Marsh of Yale and Edward Drinker Cope of Philadelphia. As pioneers in the field of digging for dinosaurs, their fierce competition ended in both triumph and tragedy. The hour-long production includes on-location footage, historic documents, old photos, and a suitably knowledgeable smattering of modern paleontologists and scholars.
This is not a movie for little kids, but can be a useful teaching tool for college and university students. I plan to show this to my HIS 112 students when we talk about Western Expansion and the Gilded Age. It is sure to be a hit.
The appropriate companion book is Url Lanham's "Bone Hunters" which goes into greater detail about the early paleontological community than does the film.
If this were about gold or diamonds, it might be understandable - yet, it's about fossils.
Well worth watching.
Must admit that what first drew me to this January, 2011 PBS offering - b4 I saw the trailer, that is - was the word "dinosaur" in the title. However, those not particularly interested in prehistoric animals, the history of American science, or history in general will still find this hour-long film quite fascinating because it is, more than anything, a tale about human ambition, meglomania, hatred, and single-mindedness and the extents to which they can drive someone (indeed, this doc ended up being more akin toanother excellent American Experience program, THE DUEL [about the political and personal rivalry between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr], than to dinosaur-themed prograams on the Discovery and History channelsor National Geographic).
This film concerns the late 19th century competition btween the first two great American paleontologists, former friends Othniel C. Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope, to be the first to unearth countless hitherto unknown species of dinosaurs resting in the foothills of the arid American West AND to be the first to publish (and get the credit). The rivalry between the first American professor of paleontology (Marsh) and the self-taught "gentleman-naturalist" (Cope) was so intense that each man would publish very short articles as soon as they had anything new to report about a new find - often making great errors in their haste - and, since they did not read each other's published articles (so great was their hatred for one another), each often ended up each submitting several differebt names for the very same species of dinosaur! Of course, Marsh's and Cope's efforts to outdo one another paled in comparison to their attempts to undermine the other.
In the end, their heated rivalry wound up destroying the careers of both men and more or less bankrupting them. The final irony was that Marsh's and Cope's discoveries/accomplishments were only revealed in all their glory to the public-at-large years after their deaths, when their jealously hoarded fossils were finally put on public display in museums (in their lifetimes, Joe and Jane Q. Public, if they had heard about Marsh and Cope at all, knew them only as the bickering scientists whose quarrels were fodder for the tabloids).
As is the case with American Experience offerings, this story is beautifully conveyed with excellent use of archival material, including the paintings of amateur fossil hunter Arthur Lakes (who told Marsh about several prospective dig sites and then worked with Marsh's men) and of dinosaur illustrator Charles Knight (who persuaded a dying Cope to lend him his expertise to craft the first extensive renderings of the various species of dinosaur). Who knew that American Experiecne could offer a program about dinosaurs as interesting as - if not more than - such programs on Discovery, History, and National Geo WITHOUT using CGI or any other type of animation?
Produced by Mark Davis and Anna Saraceno, written and directed by Davis, and narrated by Michael Murphy.
Most people view scientists as being completely objective members of a cooperative community of scholars. The truth, however, is that in some cases scientists jealously guard their ideas, methods, sources of information, data, and conclusions. Such was the case with Cope and Marsh. Their feud, however, went well beyond that. They eventually reached the stage where they were trying to ruin each other not only scientifically, but personally. And in the end, well, you'll have to watch to see how their fighting turned out.
The really sad thing to me is that Cope and Marsh could have joined forces and produced an incredibly powerful contribution to the field of paleontology in the USA. Though they did both lay their own parts of the foundation of modern American paleontology, a synergy between them would have been incredible.
I was spellbound throughout most of this documentary, and I recommend it highly.