The history of dinosaur collecting in central India, 1828–1947
Published:January 01, 2010
Matthew T. Carrano, Jeffrey A. Wilson, Paul M. Barrett, 2010. "The history of dinosaur collecting in central India, 1828–1947", Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Saurians: A Historical Perspective, R. T. J. Moody, E. Buffetaut, D. Naish, D. M. Martill
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The history of dinosaur collecting in central India (former Central Provinces and Central India Agency) began in 1828 when W. H. Sleeman discovered isolated sauropod caudal vertebrae in the Lameta Formation near Jabalpur. Subsequently, the area became a focal point for fossil collection, leading to a series of further discoveries that continues today.
The earliest discoveries were made by numerous collectors for whom palaeontology was a secondary pursuit, and who were employed in the armed forces (W. H. Sleeman and W. T. Nicolls), medicine (G. G. Spilsbury) or as geologists (T. Oldham, H. B. Medlicott, T. W. H. Hughes and C. A. Matley). Most of their finds were concentrated around Jabalpur or farther south near Pisdura and often consisted of isolated, surface-collected bones.
Charles Matley undertook the two most extensive collecting efforts, in 1917–1919 and 1932–1933 (Percy Sladen Trust Expedition). As a result he discovered significant deposits of dinosaurs on Bara Simla and Chhota Simla, revisited Pisdura, and mapped the Lameta Formation. Many new dinosaur taxa resulted from Matley's studies, which still represent most of the known Lameta Formation dinosaur fauna. Current scientific understanding places these fossils among the Sauropoda (as titanosaurians) and Theropoda (as abelisaurids and noasaurids). Early reports of armoured ornithischians were erroneous; these materials also pertain to sauropods and theropods.
A list of the archival documents in the Natural History Museum, London that were used for this study is available at http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/SUP18418.
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Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Saurians: A Historical Perspective
The discovery of dinosaurs and other large extinct ‘saurians’—a term under which the Victorians commonly lumped ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, pterosaurs and their kin—makes exciting reading and has caught the attention of palaeontologists, historians of science and the general public alike. The papers in this collection go beyond the familiar tales about famous ‘fossil hunters’ and focus on relatively little-known episodes in the discovery and interpretation (from both a scientific and an artistic point of view) of dinosaurs and other inhabitants of the Mesozoic world. They cover a long time span, from the beginnings of ‘modern’ scientific palaeontology in the 1700s to the present, and deal with many parts of the world, from the Yorkshire coast to Central India, from Bavaria to the Sahara. The characters in these stories include professional palaeontologists and geologists (some of them well-known, others quite obscure), explorers, amateur fossil collectors, and artists, linked together by their interest in Mesozoic creatures.