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Who said: “Nature does nothing in vain when less will serve; for Nature is pleased with simplicity and affects not the pomp of superfluous causes.”
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Othniel Marsh
(29 Oct 1831 - 18 Mar 1899)

American paleontologist who discovered over 1000 fossils and contributed much knowledge on extinct North American vertebrates.


Othniel Marsh

OBITUARY

from The Auk: Quarterly Journal of Ornithology (1899)

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PROFESSOR OTHNIEL CHARLES MARSH, of Yale University, died at New Haven, March 18, in the 68th year of his age.

He was born at Lockport, New York, in 1831, and was graduated at Yale in 1860. He subsequently studied several years under leading specialists in Europe, returning to New Haven in 1866, where he has since occupied the chair of Paleontology.

He has long been recognized throughout the world as one of the leading authorities in vertebrate paleontology. His explorations in various parts of the West for fossil vertebrates began in 1868, and in subsequent years he amassed the immense collections which have been so long famous. The results of his investigations have been published in a long series of papers and memoirs, numbering nearly three hundred titles, covering a period of more than twenty-five years.

His unrivalled collections of fossils, as yet only partly worked up, he presented to Yale University with a considerable endowment for carrying on and publishing the results of further investigation of this great mass of material.

Professor Marsh is well known to ornithologists for his numerous publications on fossil North American birds, including his great quarto memoir, “Odontornithes*: a Monograph of the Extinct Toothed Birds of North America,” published in 1880. Probably five-sixths of the known extinct South American birds have been described by Professor Marsh.

His scientific work brought him many honors both at home and abroad. In 1878 he was chosen President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and from 1883 to 1896 he was President of the National Academy of Sciences.

[*Odontornithes are a group of Mesozoic birds having the jaws armed with teeth, as in most other vertebrates. They have been divided into three orders: Odontolcae, Odontotormae, and Saururae.]

Text from American Ornithologists' Union, Nuttall Ornithological Club, The Auk: Quarterly Journal of Ornithology (1899), 16, No.2, 211. (source)


See also:

Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
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