The Dinohunters

A History of Dinosaur Hunting and Reconstruction

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In 1899 and 1900 two teams from the Carnegie Museum discovered almost complete skeletons of Diplodocus in Sheep Creek, Wyoming, amongst scattered bones of Apatosaurus and Stegosaurus.

John Bell Hatcher, who had hitherto been working for Othniel Marsh, named the new species Diplodocus carnegii after his patron.

The Carnegie mount of Diplodocus was to become one of the best known dinosaur skeleton mounts in the world.



Carnegie Diplodocus in the British Museum 1905

John Bell Hatcher 'Diplodocus (Marsh): Its osteology, taxonomy, and probable habits, with a restoration of the skeleton' in Memoirs of the Carnegie Museum, vol. 1 (1901). pp. 1-63.

At about the same time as Hatcher was finding his specimens, the American Museum of Natural History found 2 partial skeletons.    In 1899 Henry Fairfield Osborn described how the creature may be regarded as comparatively nimble and able to raise itself up onto its 2 hind legs with the aid of its long tail.   Cope appeared to endorse this view.

Osborn's vision of a 'tripodal' Diplodocus (Charles R Knight 1907)

Oliver Hay, in 1908, suggested that the legs of Diplodocus must have splayed out like those of a crocodile.   He gained some support for this from a German anatomist, Gustav Tornier, who attempted to reconstruct the skeleton leg bones so that the knee joints were at nearly 90 degrees.  Such theories were scathingly attacked by William J Holland in 1910.