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Big Bone Lick (Hardback)

The Cradle of American Paleontology

P&S History > Archaeology > Archaeological Method & Theory P&S History > Social Science & Culture > Anthropology & Sociology World History > The Americas > USA

Imprint: University Press of Kentucky
Pages: 204
Illustrations: 33
ISBN: 9780813124858
Published: 15th February 2008
Casemate UK Academic

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On March 7, 1808, President Thomas Jefferson received a long-awaited shipment of approximately 300 fossils from William Clark, who had just completed his westward expedition with Meriwether Lewis. The fossils were unearthed at Big Bone Lick in northern Kentucky, and over the years they had gained the interest of such prominent figures as Daniel Boone, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin. Jefferson's receipt of the fossils was the realization of more than twenty years of the philosopherstatesman's interest in the site and its natural treasures. Big Bone Lick: The Cradle of American Paleontology recounts the rich history of the fossil site that gave the world the first evidence of the extinction of several mammalian species, including the American mastodon. Big Bone Lick has played many roles: nutrient source, hallowed ground, salt mine, health spa, and a trove of archaeological riches and paleontological wonders. Natural historian Stanley Hedeen presents a comprehensive and accessible narrative of Big Bone Lick from its geological formation forward, explaining why the site attracted first animals, then Native peoples of the region, European explorers and scientists, and eventually American pioneers and presidents. Big Bone Lick is a history of both a place and a scientific discipline: it explores the infancy and adolescence of paleontology from its humble and sometimes humorous beginnings. Hedeen combines elements of history, geology, politics, and biology to make Big Bone Lick an entertaining story as well as a valuable historical resource.

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