University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Wolfson College Lunchtime Seminar Series - Wednesdays of Full Term > A Fossil Feast: 31 December 1853, Sydenham Park, London

A Fossil Feast: 31 December 1853, Sydenham Park, London

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On December 31, 1853, a most unusual feast took place in Sydenham Park, South London where the World’s Fair Crystal Palace was reassembled for public view. A lavish seven-course dinner hosted by artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and the Crystal Palace Company celebrated his “gigantic restorations of the Extinct Inhabitants of the Ancient World.” This paper chronicles the events leading up to this last hurrah of Richard Owen, the “British Cuvier,” who in 1853 was at the height of an impressive career and the leading scientist of the nineteenth century. Owen became chief spokesman of the anti-Darwinian cause in the evolutionary debate and both he and his work were soon eclipsed by the Darwinians. Owen does leave an important legacy seen most vividly in the popularity of dinosaurs and the dinosaur event, but also in the way we think of our museums of natural history.

This talk is part of the Wolfson College Lunchtime Seminar Series - Wednesdays of Full Term series.

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