A Cuvierian principle in palaeontology tested by evidences of an extinct leonine marsupial (Thylacoleo carnifex). Richard Owen.
A Cuvierian principle in palaeontology tested by evidences of an extinct leonine marsupial (Thylacoleo carnifex).

A Cuvierian principle in palaeontology tested by evidences of an extinct leonine marsupial (Thylacoleo carnifex).

Publisher Information: London: Taylor & Francis, 1871.

Owen, Richard (1804-92). A Cuvierian principle in palaeontology tested by evidences of an extinct leonine marsupial (Thylacoleo carnifex). Offprint from Philosophical Transactions 161 (1871). [2], 213-266pp. 4 lithographed plates. 275 x 211 mm. Disbound. Very good copy. Inscribed by Owen on the title: “Prof. Rupert Jones NGS with the author’s best regards.”

First Edition, Offprint Issue. Thylacoleo carnifex, or the “marsupial lion,” was a carnivorous marsupial that lived in Australia between 2 million and 46 thousand years ago; it was first described in 1859 by Owen in his “On the fossil mammals of Australia, part I” (Phil. Trans. 149: 309-322). Owen classified the extinct animal as a carnivore based on the structure of its lower jaw, but other naturalists, including William Flower and Hugh Falconer, disagreed, and “the issue of the carnivorousness of Thylacoleo carnifex became one of the bitterest paleontological controversies of the 1860s. Falconer denounced Owen’s line of reasoning as ‘facile’ and Owen’s Darwinian foes, in particular the zoologist W. H. Flower, at the time conservator of the Hunterian Museum, joined in the highly personal attack . . . Owen yielded nothing, turning the controversy into a test case of Cuvierian functionalism and issuing a separate booklet on the controversy: A Cuvierian Principle in Palaeontology, Tested by Evidences of an Extinct Leonine Marsupial (Thylacoleo carnifex)” (Rupke, pp. 86-87). It appears that this “separate booklet” is in fact the offprint of the fourth part of Owen’s “On the fossil mammals of Australia” (Phil. Trans. 161 [1875]: 213-266), as this is the title that appears on the leaf following the offprint title-page, and the pagination of the separate offprint is identical to that of the article in the Philosophical Transactions.

Owen presented this copy to British paleontologist Thomas Rupert Jones (1811–1911), the editor of Lartet and Christy’s Reliquiae Aquitanicae (1875), which recorded the discovery of Cro-Magnon man. Rupke, Richard Owen, Victorian Naturalist, pp. 85-87.

Book Id: 42975

Price: $750.00

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