Earl Douglass

Earl Douglass was the paleontologist who discovered the Carnegie Quarry and supervised excavations for fifteen years.

Born in Medford, Minnesota in 1862, Douglass studied vertebrate paleontology and taught physics and geology courses at the University of Montana. Douglass was hired by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in 1902 for paleontological field work (Beidlemann, 1956).

In 1907, Douglass was sent to the Uinta Basin to search for fossil vertebrates, primarily Cenozoic mammals. In the spring of the next year, he was assigned to prospect Jurassic exposures by Carnegie Museum Director William J. Holland. Jurassic dinosaur fossils had been reported in the Hayden Survey by the United States Geological Survey in 1871 within the Uinta Basin (Holland, 1931). The following year, with the help of locals, Douglass was directed to the area where he discovered “eight of the tail bones of a Brontosaurus in exact position” (Douglass, 2009).
Douglass would spend the rest of his paleontological career collecting a wealth of dinosaur fossils that would be sent to the Carnegie Museum to be mounted in exhibit halls.

Douglass brought many innovations to the quarry at Dinosaur National Monument. He established a grid system for diligent mapping of all fossil material that was produced by the quarry. By the end of his work at the quarry in 1924, he had shipped over 500 crates of fossils back to Pittsburgh, weighing over 700,000 pounds (Nelson, 1980).

Douglass, G.E. 2009. Speak to the Earth and It Will Teach You: The Life and Times of Earl Douglass 1862-1931. Book available on Amazon

Holland, 1931. SVP Obituary.

Nelson, H.M.H. 1980. Earl Douglass, Forgotten Friend of the Dinosaurs. Master’s thesis.

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