The History of Late Cretaceous Vertebrate Research in Alabama

April 2013
Bulletin of the Alabama Museum of Natural History;Apr2013, Vol. 31 Issue 1, p3
Academic Journal
Late Cretaceous vertebrate research in Alabama has a long and storied history which is intimately intertwined with the rise of geological and paleontological research in America. This history can be divided into six chronological periods: the Early Exploration Period (1540 to 1814), the Early Settler Period (1814 to 1842), the Pioneer Scientific Period (1830 to 1846), the Tuomey Period (1847 to 1865), the Smith Period (1865 to 1927), and the Modern Period (1927 to present). The history of vertebrate paleontology in Alabama began with geological observations made by early explorers, fur traders, and settlers, which led to visits to the state by many of America's early scientific elite including Thomas Nuttall, Timothy A. Conrad, Charles Lyell, and Robert W. Gibbes. Many of Alabama's early vertebrate discoveries were shipped to the likes of Samuel Morton, Richard Harland, Joseph Leidy, and Edward Drinker Cope. Michael Tuomey and Eugene Allen Smith made their own significant contributions to Cretaceous research while employed at the State Geological Survey. Significant events which shaped this history included the burning of the University of Alabama campus near the end of the Civil War and the establishment of the state's largest Cretaceous vertebrate collections at the Alabama Museum of Natural History, Auburn University Museum of Paleontology, and Red Mountain Museum (now McWane Science Center). This history of research has played a significant role in advancing our understanding of the Late Cretaceous systems in the United States and around the world.


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