08 August 2005

Vertebrae and dodos

Someone once asked me who my avatar was. I was going to post about him, but then I figured anyone who really needs to know about dead geologists can look him up themselves. His name was Gideon Mantell, he lived up the road from where I work, and I like his sideburns should about cover it.

But having a quick google, I found this superbly bizarre fact...
"In 1852, Mantell took an overdose of opium, the drug he used to alleviate his pain, and later lapsed into a coma. He died that afternoon. His postmortem showed that he had been suffering from scoliosis. Richard Owen, his one-time nemesis, had a section of Mantell's spine removed, pickled and stored on a shelf at the Royal College of Surgeons of England. There it sat until World War II when it was lost, presumably destroyed, during a German bombing raid"

A little harsh, I feel, just cos the guy was right about dinosaurs and Owen wasn't. Although if anyone wants to remove any of Alex Ferguson's vertebrae I'm willing to pay top whack.

Richard Owen wrote a very cool book about dodos, which reminds me that the dodo was initally given the latin name "didus ineptus". Whether Owen had a hand in this I don't know, but again, a little harsh considering they couldn't fly and the humans had guns. But, phew, google informs me that they've posthumously been renamed "Raphus Cuculatus".

So that's alright then.

Mod out.

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