By Stanley Hedeen
Shawnee legend tells of a herd of big bison rampaging during the Ohio Valley, laying waste to all of their course. to guard the tribe, a deity slew those nice beasts with lightning bolts, ultimately chasing the final titanic buffalo into exile around the Wabash River, by no means to hassle the Shawnee back. The resource of this legend used to be a unusual salt lick in present-day northern Kentucky, the place vast fossilized skeletons had for hundreds of years lain undisturbed by means of the Shawnee and different natives of the area. In 1739, the 1st Europeans encountered this fossil website, which finally got here to be referred to as substantial Bone Lick. the location drew the eye of all who heard of it, together with George Washington, Daniel Boone, Benjamin Franklin, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, and particularly Thomas Jefferson. the enormous bones instantly solid many medical and philosophical assumptions of the day into doubt, and so they finally gave upward push to the research of fossils for organic and historic reasons. colossal Bone Lick: The Cradle of yankee Paleontology recounts the wealthy historical past of the fossil website that gave the realm the 1st proof of the extinction of a number of mammalian species, together with the yankee mastodon. tremendous Bone Lick has performed many jobs: nutrient resource, hallowed floor, salt mine, wellbeing and fitness spa, and a wealthy trove of archaeological and paleontological wonders. normal historian Stanley Hedeen offers a complete narrative of massive Bone Lick from its geological formation ahead, explaining why the positioning attracted animals, neighborhood tribespeople, ecu explorers and scientists, and finally American pioneers and presidents. mammoth Bone Lick is the heritage of either a spot and a systematic self-discipline: it explores the infancy and youth of paleontology from its humble and infrequently funny beginnings. Hedeen combines components of heritage, geology, politics, and biology to make huge Bone Lick a invaluable old source in addition to the compelling story of ways a set of fossilized bones captivated a tender nation.
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Extra info for Big Bone Lick: The Cradle of American Paleontology
20 19 Chapter 3 Indian Accounts of Great Buffalo West from the springs by a gradual and easy ascent, rises the Indian hill, from the top of which there is an extensive view of the surrounding country. It was from this spot, according to Indian tradition, that the last great Mammoth Bull, stricken and scorched by heaven’s lightning, bolted and made his wondrous leap over the Wabash, the lakes and to his present home. —Licking Valley Register, March 13, 1847 Beginning in the mid-1700s, frontier soldiers, surveyors, and traders removed large bones, tusks, and teeth from Big Bone Lick and carried them to the seaboard colonies and on to Europe.
Guettard did not believe that the tooth came from an elephant because the molar’s chewing surface was composed of conical knobs—a marked contrast to the parallel low ridges of an elephant molar (ﬁgure 11). 5 In 1762, Louis Jean-Marie Daubenton, a zoologist at the Jardin du Roi, reported that he had examined all ﬁve fossils in Longueuil’s collection from Big Bone Lick and compared them with the corresponding anatomical structures of an elephant. He concluded that the femur and tusk from the Lick were those of a large elephant, but the three knobby molars came from a gigantic hippopotamus.
Joseph Passiers found a jaw tooth which he gave me. It was judged by the company to weigh 10 pound. I got a shell of a Tusk of hard and good ivory about eighteen inches long. There is a great number of bones in a Bank on the side of this pond of enormous size but decayed and rotten. Ribs 9 inches broad, Thigh bones 10 inches diameter. What sort of animals these were is not clearly known. All the traditionary accounts by the Indians is that they were White Buffaloes that killed themselves by drinking salt water.
Big Bone Lick: The Cradle of American Paleontology by Stanley Hedeen