Punch, 36 (1859), 93.
Professor Owen on Barnum
Palaeontology, Display, Charlatanry, Monstrosities, Amusement
Discusses a recent lecture given by Richard Owen at the Royal Institution (possibly Owen 1858–62). Stresses Owen's mention of the discovery of the remains of a whale-like creature in middle Tertiary strata in America. Notes that the discovery was made by an American fossil-hunter, Mr Cooke, whose skeleton of an immense fossil had been displayed by Phineas T Barnum in London and which later proved to be composed of three mastodon skeletons. Adds that Owen had still urged Mr Cooke to continue his fossil-hunting activities despite the fact that he was 'a practitioner of humbug', and that the American fossil-hunter had continued to prove a 'pupil of Barnum' because he built a skeleton of the sea serpent. Argues that although Barnum's exhibit of a fictional monster with an apparently convincing Greek name is 'genuine Humbug', the construction of a fictional animal 'out of the bones of several other real ones' is 'too coarse to be called humbug'.
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005-07
Printed from Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: An Electronic Index, v. 3.0, hriOnline Publications <http://www.sciper.org> [accessed ]