Sir Richard Owen Died This Day in 1899
Today, 18th December, marks the anniversary of the death of Sir Richard Owen, the Lancashire born scientist who is credited with coining the term “Dinosauria” and for helping to found the Natural History Museum in London. Born in Lancaster in 1804, Richard Owen trained as a doctor and went on to become an expert in comparative anatomy. Regarded as a pioneer of vertebrate palaeontology, he did much to assist with public learning and to advance the study of ancient, long extinct fauna. Sir Richard was instrumental in developing the science of palaeontology, although he was often criticised for his willingness to discredit fellow academics and to take plaudits for the work of others. He was frequently accused of and found guilty of plagiarism.
In a famous picture, Sir Richard Owen is holding leg bones from an extinct, flightless bird from New Zealand (Moa). During his long and illustrious career he received many accolades including a Knighthood. His contempt for the work of others, his willingness to claim credit for studies not necessarily carried out by himself and some of the underhand tactics used by Owen, may have led history to portray him as a flawed character but he remains one of the most significant and influential British scientists of the Victorian age.