José Bonaparte – The Father of Palaeontology in Argentina (1928-2020)

By |2024-01-17T09:54:05+00:00February 19th, 2020|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures, Main Page|18 Comments

José Bonaparte (1928-2020)

Today’s blog post is dedicated to José Bonaparte, one of the greatest palaeontologists of the 20th century and regarded as the “Father of Argentinian Palaeontology”, who has passed away.  He died yesterday (18th February), at the age of 91.  Social media has been filled with tributes to this dedicated, passionate and influential scientist, who was such an inspiration to a whole generation of palaeontologists.

José Fernando Bonaparte (1928-2020)

José Bonaparte - the father of palaeontology in Argentina.
José Bonaparte (1928-2020).

Picture credit: Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales “Bernardino Rivadavia”

El Padre de la Paleontología en la Argentina

Respected and admired by many professional palaeontologists, the self-taught José Bonaparte was regarded as a workaholic and a tough taskmaster, but perhaps, he more than anybody else is responsible for introducing the remarkable vertebrate fossils found in Argentina to the rest of the world.  Dinosaur palaeontologist Peter Dodson stated that “almost single-handedly he’s responsible for Argentina becoming the sixth country in the world in kinds of dinosaurs”.

His legacy will live on and his contribution will continue to be recognised, for example, last year alone there were something like ten new genera of non-avian dinosaurs described from fossil remains found in Argentina.

Bonaparte, who spent the majority of his career as head of the Vertebrate Palaeontology Division of the Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales “Bernardino Rivadavia”, in Buenos Aires was responsible for, or at least played a significant role in the study of iconic dinosaurs – famous animals such as Carnotaurus, Amargasaurus, Abelisaurus, Argentinosaurus, Noasaurus and numerous others.  He made many other hugely important discoveries such as the finding of the first fossilised remains of Mesozoic South American mammals and he was amongst the first scientists to lead the “dinosaur revolution” inspired by Ostrom in the 1970s.

The “Master of the Mesozoic”

Robert Bakker nicknamed Bonaparte the “Master of the Mesozoic” (Maestro del Mesozoico).  He was responsible for training a generation of palaeontologists, many of which are now regarded as leaders in the field – scientists such as Luis Chiappe, Rodolfo Coria, Agustín Martinelli, Fernando Novas, Jaime Powell, Guillermo Rougier, Leonardo Salgado, Sebastián Apesteguía and many others.

El Maestro del Mesozoico – José Bonaparte (1928-2020)

José Bonaparte "El Maestro del Mesozoico".
José Bonaparte (1928-2020) the “father of Argentinian palaeontology”

Picture credit: Télam

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a media release from the Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales “Bernardino Rivadavia” in the compilation of this article.