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Show Me the BoneReconstructing Prehistoric Monsters in Nineteenth-Century Britain and America$
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Gowan Dawson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226332734

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226332871.001.0001

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Discovering the Dinornis

Discovering the Dinornis

(p.95) 3 Discovering the Dinornis
Show Me the Bone

Gowan Dawson

University of Chicago Press

This chapter considers how Richard Owen’s alleged discovery of an extinct flightless bird from New Zealand from a single bone was transformed, through clandestine manipulation of how it was reported in the press, into the nineteenth century’s most celebrated exemplar of the law of correlation. It explores how Owen and his supporters ensured that alternative accounts of the discovery were suppressed, and that his own highly partisan rendition of what took place was replicated in various print formats. The scrupulous control that was exercised over representations of the Dinornis’s discovery meant that it could be invoked as a bulwark against both the revolutionary threat of the Chartist movement and the transmutationism of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation.

Keywords:   Richard Owen, Dinornis, New Zealand, single bone, literary replication, media manipulation, print culture, Chartism, transmutationism, Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation

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