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Richard Owen
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For other uses, see Richard Owen (disambiguation).
Richard Owen
Born 20 July 1804
Lancaster, England
Died 18 December 1892 (aged 88)
Richmond Park, London, England
Nationality United Kingdom
Alma mater University of Edinburgh
St Bartholomew's Hospital
Known for Coining the term dinosaur, presenting them as a distinct taxonomic
British Museum of Natural History
Awards Wollaston Medal (1838)
Royal Medal (1846)
Copley Medal (1851)
Baly Medal (1869)
Clarke Medal (1878)
Linnean Medal (1888)
Scientific career
Fields Comparative anatomy
Sir Richard Owen KCB FRMS FRS (20 July 1804 � 18 December 1892) was an English
biologist, comparative anatomist and paleontologist. Despite being a controversial
figure, Owen is generally considered to have been an outstanding naturalist with a
remarkable gift for interpreting fossils.

Owen produced a vast array of scientific work, but is probably best remembered
today for coining the word Dinosauria (meaning "Terrible Reptile" or "Fearfully
Great Reptile").[2][3] An outspoken critic of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution
by natural selection, Owen agreed with Darwin that evolution occurred, but thought
it was more complex than outlined in Darwin's On the Origin of Species.[4] Owen's
approach to evolution can be seen as having anticipated the issues that have gained
greater attention with the recent emergence of evolutionary developmental biology.

Owen was the first president of the Microscopical Society of London in 1839 and
edited many issues of its journal � then known as The Microscopic Journal.[6]

Owen also campaigned for the natural specimens in the British Museum to be given a
new home. This resulted in the establishment, in 1881, of the now world-famous
Natural History Museum in South Kensington, London.[7] Bill Bryson argues that, "by
making the Natural History Museum an institution for everyone, Owen transformed our
expectations of what museums are for".[8]

His contributions to science and public learning notwithstanding, Owen's driving

ambition, occasionally vicious temperament, and determination to succeed meant that
he was not always popular with his fellow scientists. Owen was feared and even
hated by some contemporaries such as Thomas Henry Huxley. His later career was
tainted by controversies, many of which involved accusations that he took credit
for other people's work.
1 Biography
2 Work on invertebrates
3 Fish, reptiles, birds, and naming of dinosaurs
4 Work on mammals
5 Owen, Darwin, and the theory of evolution
6 Legacy
7 Conflicts with his peers
8 Bibliography
9 References
10 Further reading
11 External links
Owen was born in Lancaster in 1804, one of six children of a West Indian Merchant
named Richard Owen (1754�1809). His mother, Catherine Longworth (nee Parrin), was
descended from Huguenots and he was educated at Lancaster Royal Grammar School. In
1820, he was apprenticed to a local surgeon and apothecary and, in 1824, he
proceeded as a medical student to the University of Edinburgh. He left the
university in the following year and completed his medical course in St
Bartholomew's Hospital, London, where he came under the influence of the eminent
surgeon John Abernethy.

The young Richard Owen

In July 1835 Owen married Caroline Amelia Clift in St Pancras by whom he had one
son, William Owen. He outlived both wife and son. After his death, in 1892, he was
survived by his three grandchildren and daughter-in-law Emily Owen, to whom he left
much of his �33,000 fortune.

Upon completing his education, he contemplated the usual professional career, but
his bent was evidently in the direction of anatomical research. He was induced by
Abernethy to accept the position of assistant to William Clift, conservator of the
museum of the Royal College of Surgeons. This congenial occupation soon led him to
abandon his intention of medical practice and his life thenceforth was devoted to
purely scientific labours. He prepared an important series of catalogues of the
Hunterian Collection, in the Royal College of Surgeons and, in the course of this
work, he acquired the unrivalled knowledge of comparative anatomy that enabled him
to enrich all departments of the science and especially facilitated his researches
on the remains of extinct animals.

Owen was the driving force behind the establishment, in 1881, of the British Museum
(Natural History) in London.
In 1836, Owen was appointed Hunterian professor, in the Royal College of Surgeons
and, in 1849, he succeeded Clift as conservator. He held the latter office until
1856, when he became superintendent of the natural history department of the
British Museum. He then devoted much of his energies to a great scheme for a
National Museum of Natural History, which eventually resulted in the removal of the
natural history collections of the British Museum to a new building at South
Kensington: the British Museum (Natural History) (now the Natural History Museum).
He retained office until the completion of this work, in December, 1883, when he
was made a knight of the Order of the Bath.[9] He lived quietly in retirement at
Sheen Lodge, Richmond Park, until his death in 1892.

His career was tainted by accusations that he failed to give credit to the work of
others and even tried to appropriate it in his own name. This came to a head in
1846, when he was awarded the Royal Medal for a paper he had written on belemnites.
Owen had failed to acknowledge that the belemnite had been discovered by Chaning
Pearce, an amateur biologist, four years earlier. As a result of the ensuing
scandal, he was voted off the councils of the Zoological Society and the Royal

Owen always tended to support orthodox men of science and the status quo. The royal
family presented him with the cottage in Richmond Park and Robert Peel put him on
the Civil List. In 1843, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish
Academy of Sciences.

He died at home on 15 December 1892 and is buried in the churchyard at Ham near
Richmond, Surrey.[10]

Work on invertebrates
While occupied with the cataloguing of the Hunterian collection, Owen did not
confine his attention to the preparations before him but also seized every
opportunity to dissect fresh subjects. He was allowed to examine all animals that
died in London Zoo's gardens and, when the Zoo began to publish scientific
proceedings, in 1831, he was the most prolific contributor of anatomical papers.
His first notable publication, however, was his Memoir on the Pearly Nautilus
(London, 1832), which was soon recognized as a classic. Henceforth, he continued to
make important contributions to every department of comparative anatomy and zoology
for a period of over fifty years. In the sponges, Owen was the first to describe
the now well-known Venus' Flower Basket or Euplectella (1841, 1857). Among Entozoa,
his most noteworthy discovery was that of Trichina spiralis (1835), the parasite
infesting the muscles of man in the disease now termed trichinosis (see also,
however, Sir James Paget). Of Brachiopoda he made very special studies, which much
advanced knowledge and settled the classification that has long been accepted.
Among Mollusca, he described not only the pearly nautilus but also Spirula (1850)
and other Cephalopoda, both living and extinct, and it was he who proposed the
universally-accepted subdivision of this class into the two orders of Dibranchiata
and Tetrabranchiata (1832). In 1852 Owen named Protichnites � the oldest footprints
found on land.[11] Applying his knowledge of anatomy, he correctly postulated that
these Cambrian trackways were made by an extinct type of arthropod,[11] and he did
this more than 150 years before any fossils of the animal were found.[12][13] Owen
envisioned a resemblance of the animal to the living arthropod Limulus,[11] which
was the subject of a special memoir he wrote in 1873.

Fish, reptiles, birds, and naming of dinosaurs

Richard Owen in 1856 with the skull of a crocodile

Owen's technical descriptions of the Vertebrata were still more numerous and
extensive than those of the invertebrate animals. His Comparative Anatomy and
Physiology of Vertebrates (3 vols. London 1866�1868) was indeed the result of more
personal research than any similar work since Georges Cuvier's Le�ons d'anatomie
compar�e. He not only studied existing forms but also devoted great attention to
the remains of extinct groups, and followed Cuvier, the pioneer of vertebrate
paleontology. Early in his career, he made exhaustive studies of teeth of existing
and extinct animals and published his profusely illustrated work on Odontography
(1840�1845). He discovered and described the remarkably complex structure of the
teeth of the extinct animals which he named Labyrinthodontia. Among his writings on
fish, his memoir on the African lungfish, which he named Protopterus, laid the
foundations for the recognition of the Dipnoi by Johannes M�ller. He also later
pointed out the serial connection between the teleostean and ganoid fishes,
grouping them in one sub-class, the Teleostomi.

Most of his work on reptiles related to the skeletons of extinct forms and his
chief memoirs, on British specimens, were reprinted in a connected series in his
History of British Fossil Reptiles (4 vols. London 1849�1884). He published the
first important general account of the great group of Mesozoic land-reptiles, and
he coined the name Dinosauria from Greek de???? (deinos) "terrible, powerful,
wondrous" + sa???? (sauros) "lizard".[2][3] Owen used 3 genera to define the
dinosaurs: the carnivorous Megalosaurus, the herbivorous Iguanodon and armoured
Hylaeosaurus', specimens uncovered in southern England.[3] He also first recognized
the curious early Mesozoic synapsids, with affinities both to amphibians and
mammals, which he termed Anomodontia (the mammal-like synapsids, Therapsida). Most
of these were obtained from South Africa, beginning in 1845 (Dicynodon) and
eventually furnished materials for his Catalogue of the Fossil Reptilia of South
Africa, issued by the British Museum, in 1876. Among his writings on birds, his
classical memoir on the kiwi (1840�1846), a long series of papers on the extinct
Dinornithidae of New Zealand, other memoirs on Aptornis, the takahe, the dodo and
the great auk, may be especially mentioned. His monograph on Archaeopteryx (1863),
the long-tailed, toothed bird from the Bavarian lithographic stone, is also an
epoch-making work.

With Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, Owen helped create the first life-size sculptures
depicting dinosaurs as he thought they might have appeared. Some models were
initially created for the Great Exhibition of 1851, but 33 were eventually produced
when the Crystal Palace was relocated to Sydenham, in South London. Owen famously
hosted a dinner for 21 prominent men of science inside the hollow concrete
Iguanodon on New Year's Eve 1853. However, in 1849, a few years before his death in
1852, Gideon Mantell had realised that Iguanodon, of which he was the discoverer,
was not a heavy, pachyderm-like animal,[14] as Owen was proposing, but had slender
forelimbs; his death left him unable to participate in the creation of the Crystal
Palace dinosaur sculptures, and so Owen's vision of dinosaurs became that seen by
the public. He had nearly two dozen lifesize sculptures of various prehistoric
animals built out of concrete sculpted over a steel and brick framework; two
Iguanodon, one standing and one resting on its belly, were included.

Work on mammals

Owen's illustration of a camel's skeleton

Owen was granted right of first refusal on any freshly dead animal at the London
Zoo. His wife once arrived home to find the carcass of a newly deceased rhinoceros
in her front hallway.[8]

With regard to living mammals, the more striking of Owen's contributions relate to
the monotremes, marsupials and the anthropoid apes. He was also the first to
recognize and name the two natural groups of typical Ungulate, the odd-toed
(Perissodactyla) and the even-toed (Artiodactyla), while describing some fossil
remains, in 1848. Most of his writings on mammals, however, deal with extinct
forms, to which his attention seems to have been first directed by the remarkable
fossils collected by Charles Darwin, in South America. Toxodon, from the pampas,
was then described and gave the earliest clear evidence of an extinct generalized
hoof animal, a pachyderm with affinities to the Rodentia, Edentata and herbivorous
Cetacea. Owen's interest in South American extinct mammals then led to the
recognition of the giant armadillo, which he named Glyptodon (1839) and to classic
memoirs on the giant ground-sloths, Mylodon (1842) and Megatherium (1860), besides
other important contributions. Owen also first described the false killer whale in

At the same time, Sir Thomas Mitchell's discovery of fossil bones, in New South
Wales, provided material for the first of Owen's long series of papers on the
extinct mammals of Australia, which were eventually reprinted in book-form in 1877.
He discovered Diprotodon (1838) and Thylacoleo (1859), besides extinct kangaroos
and wombats, of gigantic size. While occupied with so much material from abroad,
Owen was also busily collecting facts for an exhaustive work on similar fossils
from the British Isles and, in 1844�1846, he published his History of British
Fossil Mammals and Birds, which was followed by many later memoirs, notably his
Monograph of the Fossil Mammalia of the Mesozoic Formations (Palaeont. Soc., 1871).
One of his latest publications was a little work entitled Antiquity of Man as
deduced from the Discovery of a Human Skeleton during Excavations of the Docks at
Tilbury (London, 1884).

Owen, Darwin, and the theory of evolution

Owen with a giant moa skeleton

Following the voyage of the Beagle, Darwin had at his disposal a considerable
collection of specimens and, on 29 October 1836, he was introduced by Charles Lyell
to Owen, who agreed to work on fossil bones collected in South America. Owen's
subsequent revelations, that the extinct giant creatures were rodents and sloths,
showed that they were related to current species in the same locality, rather than
being relatives of similarly sized creatures in Africa, as Darwin had originally
thought. This was one of the many influences that led Darwin later to formulate his
own ideas on the concept of natural selection.

At this time, Owen talked of his theories, influenced by Johannes Peter M�ller,
that living matter had an "organising energy", a life-force that directed the
growth of tissues and also determined the lifespan of the individual and of the
species. Darwin was reticent about his own thoughts, understandably, when, on 19
December 1838, as secretary of the Geological Society of London, he saw Owen and
his allies ridicule the Lamarckian 'heresy' of Darwin's old tutor, Robert Edmund
Grant. In 1841, when the recently married Darwin was ill, Owen was one of the few
scientific friends to visit; however, Owen's opposition to any hint of
transmutation made Darwin keep quiet about his hypothesis.

Sometime during the 1840s Owen came to the conclusion that species arise as the
result of some sort of evolutionary process.[7] He believed that there was a total
of six possible mechanisms: parthenogenesis, prolonged development, premature
birth, congenital malformations, Lamarckian atrophy, Lamarckian hypertrophy and
transmutation,[7] of which he thought transmutation was the least likely.[7] The
historian of science Evelleen Richards has argued that Owen was likely sympathetic
to developmental theories of evolution, but backed away from publicly proclaiming
them after the critical reaction that had greeted the anonymously published
evolutionary book Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation in 1844 (it was
revealed only decades later that the book had been authored by publisher Robert
Chambers). Owen had been criticized for his own evolutionary remarks in his Nature
of the Limbs in 1849.[15] At the end of On the Nature of Limbs Owen had suggested
that humans ultimately evolved from fish as the result of natural laws,[16] which
resulted in his being criticized in the Manchester Spectator for denying that
species such as humans were created by God.[7]

During the development of Darwin's theory, his investigation of barnacles showed,

in 1849, how their segmentation related to other crustaceans, showing how they had
diverged from their relatives. To both Darwin and Owen such "homologies" in
comparative anatomy were evidence of descent. Owen demonstrated fossil evidence of
an evolutionary sequence of horses, as supporting his idea of development from
archetypes in "ordained continuous becoming" and, in 1854, gave a British
Association talk on the impossibility of bestial apes, such as the recently
discovered gorilla, standing erect and being transmuted into men, but Owen did not
rule out the possibility that humans had evolved from other extinct animals by
evolutionary mechanisms other than transmutation. Working-class militants were
trumpeting man's monkey origins. To crush these ideas, Owen, as President-elect of
the Royal Association, announced his authoritative anatomical studies of primate
brains, claiming that the human brain had structures that apes brains did not, and
that therefore humans were a separate sub-class, starting a dispute which was
subsequently satirised as the Great Hippocampus Question. Owen's main argument was
that humans have much larger brains for their body size than other mammals
including the great apes.[4] Darwin wrote that "I cannot swallow Man [being that]
distinct from a Chimpanzee". The combative Thomas Henry Huxley used his March 1858
Royal Institution lecture to deny Owen's claim and affirmed that structurally,
gorillas are as close to humans as they are to baboons. He believed that the
"mental & moral faculties are essentially... the same kind in animals & ourselves".
This was a clear denial of Owen's claim for human uniqueness, given at the same

This 1847 diagram by Richard Owen shows his conceptual archetype for all
On the publication of Darwin's theory, in On The Origin of Species, he sent a
complimentary copy to Owen, saying "it will seem 'an abomination'". Owen was the
first to respond, courteously claiming that he had long believed that "existing
influences" were responsible for the "ordained" birth of species. Darwin now had
long talks with him and Owen said that the book offered the best explanation "ever
published of the manner of formation of species", although he still had the gravest
doubts that transmutation would bestialize man. It appears that Darwin had assured
Owen that he was looking at everything as resulting from designed laws, which Owen
interpreted as showing a shared belief in "Creative Power".

As head of the Natural History Collections at the British Museum, Owen received
numerous inquiries and complaints about the Origin. His own views remained unknown:
when emphasising to a Parliamentary committee the need for a new Natural History
museum, he pointed out that "The whole intellectual world this year has been
excited by a book on the origin of species; and what is the consequence? Visitors
come to the British Museum, and they say, 'Let us see all these varieties of
pigeons: where is the tumbler, where is the pouter?' and I am obliged with shame to
say, I can show you none of them" .... "As to showing you the varieties of those
species, or of any of those phenomena that would aid one in getting at that mystery
of mysteries, the origin of species, our space does not permit; but surely there
ought to be a space somewhere, and, if not in the British Museum, where is it to be

However, Huxley's attacks were making their mark. In April 1860 the Edinburgh
Review included Owen's anonymous review of the Origin. In it Owen showed his anger
at what he saw as Darwin's caricature of the creationist position, and his ignoring
Owen's "axiom of the continuous operation of the ordained becoming of living
things". As well as attacking Darwin's "disciples", Hooker and Huxley, for their
"short-sighted adherence", he thought that the book symbolised the sort of "abuse
of science... to which a neighbouring nation, some seventy years since, owed its
temporary degradation" in a reference to the French Revolution. Darwin thought it
"Spiteful, extremely malignant, clever, and... damaging" and later commented that
"The Londoners say he is mad with envy because my book is so talked about. It is
painful to be hated in the intense degree with which Owen hates me."

During the reaction to Darwin's theory, Huxley's arguments with Owen continued.
Owen tried to smear Huxley, by portraying him as an "advocate of man's origins from
a transmuted ape" and one of his contributions to the Athenaeum was titled "Ape-
Origin of Man as Tested by the Brain". In 1862 (and on other occasions) Huxley took
the opportunity to arrange demonstrations of ape brain anatomy (e.g. at the BA
meeting, where William Flower performed the dissection). Visual evidence of the
supposedly missing structures (posterior cornu and hippocampus minor) was used, in
effect, to indict Owen for perjury. Owen had argued that the absence of those
structures in apes were connected with the lesser size to which the ape brains
grew, but he then conceded that a poorly developed version might be construed as
present without preventing him from arguing that brain size was still the major way
of distinguishing apes and humans.[4] Huxley's campaign ran over two years and was
devastatingly successful at persuading the overall scientific community, with each
"slaying" being followed by a recruiting drive for the Darwinian cause. The spite
lingered. While Owen had argued that humans were distinct from apes by virtue of
having large brains, Huxley claimed that racial diversity blurred any such
distinction. In his paper criticizing Owen, Huxley directly states: "if we place A,
the European brain, B, the Bosjesman brain, and C, the orang brain, in a series,
the differences between A and B, so far as they have been ascertained, are of the
same nature as the chief of those between B and C".[17] Owen countered Huxley by
saying the brains of all human races were really of similar size and intellectual
ability, and that the fact that humans had brains that were twice the size of large
apes like male gorillas, even though humans had much smaller bodies, made humans
distinguishable.[4] When Huxley joined the Zoological Society Council, in 1861,
Owen left and, in the following year, Huxley moved to stop Owen from being elected
to the Royal Society Council, accusing him "of wilful & deliberate falsehood". (See
also Thomas Henry Huxley.)

In January 1863, Owen bought the Archaeopteryx fossil for the British Museum. It
fulfilled Darwin's prediction that a proto-bird with unfused wing fingers would be
found, although Owen described it unequivocally as a bird.

The feuding between Owen and Darwin's supporters continued. In 1871, Owen was found
to be involved in a threat to end government funding of Joseph Dalton Hooker's
botanical collection, at Kew, possibly trying to bring it under his British Museum.
Darwin commented that "I used to be ashamed of hating him so much, but now I will
carefully cherish my hatred & contempt to the last days of my life".


Owen with his granddaughter Emily

Owen's detailed memoirs and descriptions require laborious attention in reading, on
account of their complex terminology and ambiguous modes of expression. The fact
that very little of his terminology has found universal favour causes them to be
more generally neglected than they otherwise would be. At the same time, it must be
remembered that he was a pioneer in concise anatomical nomenclature and, so far at
least as the vertebrate skeleton is concerned, his terms were based on a carefully
reasoned philosophical scheme, which first clearly distinguished between the now-
familiar phenomena of analogy and homology. Owen's theory of the Archetype and
Homologies of the Vertebrate Skeleton (1848), subsequently illustrated also by his
little work On the Nature of Limbs (1849), regarded the vertebrate frame as
consisting of a series of fundamentally identical segments, each modified according
to its position and functions. Much of it was fanciful and failed when tested by
the facts of embryology, which Owen systematically ignored, throughout his work.
However, though an imperfect and distorted view of certain great truths, it
possessed a distinct value at the time of its conception.

To the discussion of the deeper problems of biological philosophy, he made scarcely

any direct and definite contributions. His generalities rarely extended beyond
strict comparative anatomy, the phenomena of adaptation to function and the facts
of geographical or geological distribution. His lecture on virgin reproduction or
parthenogenesis, however, published in 1849, contained the essence of the germ
plasm theory, elaborated later by August Weismann and he made several vague
statements concerning the geological succession of genera and species of animals
and their possible derivation one from another. He referred, especially, to the
changes exhibited by the successive forerunners of the crocodiles (1884) and horses
(1868) but it has never become clear how much of the modern doctrines of organic
evolution he admitted. He contented himself with the bare remark that "the
inductive demonstration of the nature and mode of operation of the laws governing
life would henceforth be the great aim of the philosophical naturalist."

He was the first director in Natural History Museum in London and his statue was in
the main hall there until 2009, when it was replaced with a statue of Darwin.

A bust of Owen by Alfred Gilbert (1896) is held in the Hunterian Museum, London.
There is a blue plaque in his honour at Lancaster Royal Grammar School.

A species of Central American lizard, Diploglossus owenii, was named in his honor
by French herpetologists Andr� Marie Constant Dum�ril and Gabriel Bibron in 1839.

Conflicts with his peers

Owen: the most distinguished vertebrate zoologist and palaeontologist... but a most
deceitful and odious man."

�?Richard Broke Freeman in Charles Darwin: a Companion, 1978

Owen has been described by some as a malicious, dishonest and hateful individual.
He has been described in one biography as being a "social experimenter with a
penchant for sadism. Addicted to controversy and driven by arrogance and jealousy".
Deborah Cadbury stated that Owen possessed an "almost fanatical egoism with a
callous delight in savaging his critics." Indeed, an Oxford University professor
once described Owen as "a damned liar. He lied for God and for malice".[19] Gideon
Mantell claimed it was "a pity a man so talented should be so dastardly and

No one fact tells so strongly against that he has never reared one pupil
or follower.

�?Charles Darwin to Asa Gray, 1860, in More Letters of C.D, p. 153

Owen famously credited himself and Georges Cuvier with the discovery of the
Iguanodon, completely excluding any credit for the original discoverer of the
dinosaur, Gideon Mantell. This was not the first or last time Owen would falsely
claim a discovery as his own. It has also been suggested by some authors, including
Bill Bryson in A Short History of Nearly Everything, that Owen even used his
influence in the Royal Society to ensure that many of Mantell�s research papers
were never published. Owen was finally dismissed from the Royal Society's
Zoological Council for plagiarism.

1873 caricature of Owen "riding his hobby", by Frederick Waddy

When Mantell suffered an accident that left him permanently crippled, Owen
exploited the opportunity by renaming several dinosaurs which had already been
named by Mantell, even having the audacity to claim credit for their discovery
himself. When Mantell finally died in 1852, an obituary carrying no byline derided
Mantell as little more than a mediocre scientist, who brought forth few notable
contributions. The obituary�s authorship was universally attributed to Owen by
every geologist. The president of the Geological Society claimed that it "bespeaks
of the lamentable coldness of the heart of the writer". Owen was subsequently
denied the presidency of the society for his repeated and pointed antagonism
towards Gideon Mantell.

Even more extraordinary was the way Owen ignored the genuine scientific content of
Mantell's work. For example, despite the paucity of finds Mantell had worked out
that some dinosaurs were bipedal, including Iguanodon. This remarkable insight was
totally ignored by Owen, whose instructions for the Crystal Palace models by
Waterhouse Hawkins portrayed Iguanodon as grossly overweight and quadrupedal, with
its misidentified thumb on its nose. Mantell did not live to witness the discovery
in 1878 of articulated skeletons in a Belgium coal-mine that showed Iguanodon was
mostly bipedal (and in that stance could use its thumb for defence). Owen made no
comment or retraction; he never did on any errors he made. Moreover, since the
earliest known dinosaurs were bipedal, Mantell's idea was indeed insightful.
Richard Owen in old age
Despite originally starting out on good terms with Darwin, Owen was highly critical
of the Origin in large part because Darwin did not refer much to the previous
scientific theories of evolution that had been proposed by people like Chambers and
himself, and instead compared the theory of evolution by natural selection with the
unscientific theory in the Bible.

Another reason for his criticism of the Origin, some historians claim, was that
Owen felt upstaged by Darwin and supporters such as Huxley, and his judgment was
clouded by jealousy. Owen in Darwin's opinion was "Spiteful, extremely malignant,
clever; the Londoners say he is mad with envy because my book is so talked about".
[20] "It is painful to be hated in the intense degree with which Owen hates me".
[21] Owen also resorted to the same subterfuge he used against Mantell, writing
another anonymous article in the Edinburgh Review in April 1860. In the article,
Owen was critical of Darwin for not offering many new observations, and heaped
praise (in the third person) upon himself, while being careful not to associate any
particular comment with his own name.[22] Owen did praise, however, the Origin's
description of Darwin's work on insect behavior and pigeon breeding as Huxley,
Thomas H., (1861), "On the Zoological Relations of Man with the Lower Animals",
Natural History Review 1: 67�84."real gems".[23]

Owen was also a party to the threat to end government funding of the Royal Botanic
Gardens, Kew botanical collection (see Attacks on Hooker and Kew), orchestrated by
Acton Smee Ayrton:

"There is no doubt that rivalry resulted between the British Museum, where there
was the very important Herbarium of the Department of Botany, and Kew. The rivalry
at times became extremely personal, especially between Joseph Hooker and Owen... At
the root was Owen�s feeling that Kew should be subordinate to the British Museum
(and to Owen) and should not be allowed to develop as an independent scientific
institution with the advantage of a great botanic garden." [24]
It has been suggested by some authors that the portrayal of Owen as a vindictive
and treacherous man was fostered and encouraged by his rivals (particularly Darwin,
Hooker and Huxley) and may be somewhat undeserved. In the first part of his career
he was regarded rightly as one of the great scientific figures of the age. In the
second part of his career his reputation slipped. This was not due solely to his
underhanded dealings with colleagues; it was also due to serious errors of
scientific judgement that were discovered and publicized. A fine example was his
decision to classify man in a separate subclass of the Mammalia (see Man's place in
nature). In this Owen had no supporters at all. Also, his unwillingness to come off
the fence concerning evolution became increasingly damaging to his reputation as
time went on. Owen continued working after his official retirement at the age of
79, but he never recovered the good opinions he had garnered in his younger days.

Memoir on the Pearly Nautilus (1832)
Odontography (1840�1845)
Description of the Skeleton of an Extinct Gigantic Sloth (1842)
On the Archetype and Homologies of the Vertebrate Skeleton (1848)
History of British Fossil Reptiles (4 vols., 1849�1884)
On the Nature of Limbs (1849)
Pal�ontology or a Systematic Summary of Extinct Animals and Their Geological
Relations (1860)
Archaeopteryx (1863)
Anatomy of Vertebrates (1866) Image from
Available at Google Books:
Volume I, Fishes and Reptiles
Volume II, Birds and Mammals
Volume III, Mammals
Memoir of the Dodo (1866) Full book on Wiki commons
Monograph of the Fossil Mammalia of the Mesozoic Formations (1871)
Catalogue of the Fossil Reptilia of South Africa (1876)
Antiquity of Man as deduced from the Discovery of a Human Skeleton during
Excavations of the Docks at Tilbury (1884)
Shindler, Karolyn (7 December 2010). "Richard Owen: the greatest scientist you've
never heard of". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 10 March 2011.
Retrieved 19 February 2017.
Owen, Richard (1841). "Report on British fossil reptiles. Part II". Report of the
Eleventh Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science; Held at
Plymouth in July 1841: 60�204. ; see p. 103. From p. 103: "The combination of such
characters � will, it is presumed, be deemed sufficient ground for establishing a
distinct tribe or sub-order of Saurian Reptiles, for which I would propose the name
of Dinosauria*. (*Gr. de????, fearfully great; sa????, a lizard. � )"
"Sir Richard Owen: The man who invented the dinosaur". BBC. 18 February 2017.
Cosans, Christopher E. (2009). Owen's Ape & Darwin's Bulldog: Beyond Darwinism and
Creationism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. pp. 1�192. ISBN 978-0-253-
Amundson, Ron (2007). The Changing Role of the Embryo in Evolutionary Thought:
Roots of Evo-Devo. New York: Cambridge University of Press. pp. 1�296. ISBN 978-
Wilson, Tony (2016). "175th Anniversary Special Issue: Introduction" (PDF).
Journal of Microscopy. doi:10.1111/(ISSN)1365-2818.
Rupke, Nicolaas A. (1994). Richard Owen: Victorian Naturalist. New Haven: Yale
University Press. pp. 1�484. ISBN 978-0300058208.
Bryson, Bill (2003). A Short History of Nearly Everything. London: Doubleday. pp.
1�672. ISBN 978-0-7679-0817-7.
"Eminent persons: Biographies reprinted from the Times, Vol V, 1891�1892 - Sir
Richard Owen (Obituary)". Macmillan & Co. 1896: 291�299.
Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783�2002
(PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0 902 198 84 X.
Owen, Richard (1852). "Description of the impressions and footprints of the
Protichnites from the Potsdam sandstone of Canada". Geological Society of London
Quarterly Journal. 8: 214�225.
Collette, Joseph H.; Hagadorn, James W. (2010). "Three-dimensionally preserved
arthropods from Cambrian Lagerstatten of Quebec and Wisconsin". Journal of
Paleontology. 84 (4): 646�667.
Collette, Joseph H; Gass, Kenneth C; Hagadorn, James W (2012). "Protichnites
eremita unshelled? Experimental model-based neoichnology and new evidence for a
euthycarcinoid affinity for this ichnospecies". Journal of Paleontology. 83 (3):
Mantell, Gideon A. (1851). Petrifications and their teachings: or, a handbook to
the gallery of organic remains of the British Museum. London: H. G. Bohn. OCLC
Richards, Evellen (1987). "A Question of Property Rights: Richard Owen's
Evolutionism Reassessed". British Journal for the History of Science. 20 (2):
129�171. JSTOR 4026305.
Owen, 2007, p. 86
Huxley, Thomas Henry (1861). "On the Zoological Relations of Man with the Lower
Animals". Natural History Review. 1: 67�84.
Beolens B, Watkins M, Grayson M (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5.
("Owen, R.", p. 198).
Rocky Road: Sir Richard Owen. (2011-05-28). Retrieved on 2011-
Darwin, Charles (1 July 2001). Darwin, Francis; Seward, A. C. (Albert Charles),
eds. More Letters of Charles Darwin � Volume 1 A Record of His Work in a Series of
Hitherto Unpublished Letters � via Project Gutenberg.
"Project Gutenberg".
Darwin on the Origin of Species. Retrieved on 2011-09-17.
Owen (published anonymously), Richard (1860). "Darwin on the Origin of Species".
Edinburgh Review. 111: 487�532.
Turrill W.B. 1963. Joseph Dalton Hooker. Nelson, London. p90.
Desmond A. 1982. Archetypes and ancestors: paleontology in Victorian London
1850�1875. Muller, London.
Sir Richard Owen: the archetypal villain. Retrieved on 2011-09-
Further reading
Anonymous (1873). Cartoon portraits and biographical sketches of men of the day.
Illustrated by Frederick Waddy. London: Tinsley Brothers. pp. 36�37. Retrieved
Amundson, Ron, (2007), The Changing Role of the Embryo in Evolutionary Thought:
Roots of Evo-Devo. New York: Cambridge University of Press.
Bryson, Bill (2003). A Short History of Nearly Everything. London: Doubleday. ISBN
Cadbury, Deborah (2000). Terrible Lizard: The First Dinosaur Hunters and the Birth
of a New Science. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 978-0-8050-7087-3.
Collette, Joseph H., Gass, Kenneth C. & Hagadorn, James W. (2012). "Protichnites
eremita unshelled? Experimental model-based neoichnology and new evidence for a
euthycarcinoid affinity for this ichnospecies". Journal of Paleontology. 86 (3):
442�454. doi:10.1666/11-056.1.
Collette, Joseph H. & Hagadorn, James W. (2010). "Three-dimensionally preserved
arthropods from Cambrian Lagerstatten of Quebec and Wisconsin". Journal of
Paleontology. 84 (4): 646�667. doi:10.1666/09-075.1.
Cosans, Christopher, (2009), Owen's Ape & Darwin's Bulldog: Beyond Darwinism and
Creationism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Desmond, Adrian & Moore, James (1991). Darwin. London: Michael Joseph, the Penguin
Group. ISBN 0-7181-3430-3.
Darwin, Francis, editor (1887). The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin: Including
an Autobiographical Chapter (7th Edition). London: John Murray.
Darwin, Francis & Seward, A. C., editors (1903). More letters of Charles Darwin: A
record of his work in a series of hitherto unpublished letters. London: John
Huxley, Thomas H., (1861), "On the Zoological Relations of Man with the Lower
Animals", Natural History Review 1: 67�84.
Owen, Richard (1852). "Description of the impressions and footprints of the
Protichnites from the Potsdam sandstone of Canada". Geological Society of London
Quarterly Journal. 8: 214�225. doi:10.1144/GSL.JGS.1852.008.01-02.26.
Owen, Richard (published anonymously) (April 1860). "Darwin on the Origin of
Species". Edinburgh Review. 111: 487�532. Retrieved 2010-07-26.
Owen, Richard (January 2007) [1849]. Amundson, Ron, ed. On the Nature of Limbs: A
Discourse, with a preface by Brian Hall, and essays by Ron Amundson, Kevin Padian,
Mary Winsor, and Jennifer Coggon. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-
226-64194-2. LCCN 2007009519.[1]
Owen, Richard (Owen's grandson) (1894). The Life of Richard Owen. 1. London: J.
Murray. ISBN 978-0-8478-1188-5. LCCN 03026819.
Owen, Richard (Owen's grandson) (1894). The Life of Richard Owen. 2. London: J.
Murray. ISBN 978-0-8478-1188-5. LCCN 03026819.
Richards, Evellen, (1987), "A Question of Property Rights: Richard Owen's
Evolutionism Reassessed", British Journal for the History of Science, 20: 129�171.
Rupke, Nicolaas, (1994), Richard Owen: Victorian Naturalist. New Haven: Yale
University Press.
Shindler, Karolyn. Richard Owen: the greatest scientist you've never heard of, The
Telegraph, 16 December 2010. (accessed 16 December 2010)
External links
Media related to Richard Owen at Wikimedia Commons
Wikisource logo Works written by or about Richard Owen at Wikisource
Works by or about Richard Owen at Internet Archive
Academic offices
Preceded by
Thomas Henry Huxley Fullerian Professor of Physiology
1858�1862 Succeeded by
John Marshall
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
New award Clarke Medal
1878 Succeeded by
George Bentham
Copley Medallists (1851�1900)
Richard Owen (1851) Alexander von Humboldt (1852) Heinrich Wilhelm Dove (1853)
Johannes Peter M�ller (1854) L�on Foucault (1855) Henri Milne-Edwards (1856) Michel
Eug�ne Chevreul (1857) Charles Lyell (1858) Wilhelm Eduard Weber (1859) Robert
Bunsen (1860) Louis Agassiz (1861) Thomas Graham (1862) Adam Sedgwick (1863)
Charles Darwin (1864) Michel Chasles (1865) Julius Pl�cker (1866) Karl Ernst von
Baer (1867) Charles Wheatstone (1868) Henri Victor Regnault (1869) James Prescott
Joule (1870) Julius Robert von Mayer (1871) Friedrich W�hler (1872) Hermann von
Helmholtz (1873) Louis Pasteur (1874) August Wilhelm von Hofmann (1875) Claude
Bernard (1876) James Dwight Dana (1877) Jean-Baptiste Boussingault (1878) Rudolf
Clausius (1879) James Joseph Sylvester (1880) Charles Adolphe Wurtz (1881) Arthur
Cayley (1882) William Thomson (1883) Carl Ludwig (1884) Friedrich August Kekul� von
Stradonitz (1885) Franz Ernst Neumann (1886) Joseph Dalton Hooker (1887) Thomas
Henry Huxley (1888) George Salmon (1889) Simon Newcomb (1890) Stanislao Cannizzaro
(1891) Rudolf Virchow (1892) George Gabriel Stokes (1893) Edward Frankland (1894)
Karl Weierstrass (1895) Karl Gegenbaur (1896) Albert von K�lliker (1897) William
Huggins (1898) John William Strutt (1899) Marcellin Berthelot (1900)
Authority control Edit this at Wikidata
BNE: XX1388111 BNF: cb123914632 (data) GND: 11916129X ISNI: 0000 0001 2136 5461
LCCN: n80004117 NKC: nlk20010096108 NLA: 35404123 SELIBR: 283081 SNAC: w6dn4677
SUDOC: 033003297 VIAF: 64089233 WorldCat Identities: 64089233
Cosans, 2009, pp. 108�111
Categories: English anatomistsEnglish palaeontologists1804 births1892 deathsAlumni
of the University of EdinburghAlumni of the Medical College of St Bartholomew's
HospitalEmployees of the Natural History Museum, LondonFellows of the Royal
Microscopical SocietyFellows of the Royal SocietyCorresponding Members of the St
Petersburg Academy of SciencesFullerian Professors of PhysiologyKnights Commander
of the Order of the BathMembers of The ClubMembers of the Royal Swedish Academy of
SciencesNon-Darwinian evolutionPeople educated at Lancaster Royal Grammar
SchoolPeople from Lancaster, LancashireRecipients of the Copley MedalRecipients of
the Pour le M�rite (civil class)Royal Medal winnersTaxa named by Richard
OwenWollaston Medal winners19th-century scientists
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