Oxted and District History Society
Tuesday 5th February 2008.
Richard Owen: the Man Who Invented Dinosaurs
Richard Owen was interested in anatomy at an early age. Graduating from Edinburgh
University in 1824, he was employed to prepare anatomical organs for lectures. He became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1826. By 1834 he had become Professor of Comparative Anatomy at Barts. Hospital. A friend of Georges
Couvier, the leading French anatomist, Owen learnt from him how to reconstruct anatomical forms from a few bones. A bone brought to Owen from New Zealand in 1839 turned out to be from the extinct Moa.
Various fossilised bones were being discovered at quarries in Oxfordshire and Sussex as well as by Darwin on 'The
Beagle' expedition and by others in South America. In 1841 Owen reviewed the work done in this area by himself and others and invented the word 'dinosaur' to describe pre-historic reptiles. They were featured at the Great
Exhibition in 1851 and the first theme park of life-size dinosaur models was set up at Crystal Palace in 1853. Richard Owen was also a leading light in the establishment of the Natural History and Science museums.
Lecture given by Dr. Chris Duffin at
Oxted United Reformed Church,
Bluehouse Lane, Oxted