Barnum Brown

Paleontologist, Academic

1873 – 1963

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Who was Barnum Brown?

Barnum Brown, a paleontologist born in Carbondale, Kansas, and named after the circus showman P.T. Barnum, discovered the first documented remains of Tyrannosaurus rex during a career that made him one of the most famous fossil hunters working from the late Victorian era into the early 20th century.

Sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History, Brown traversed the country bargaining and trading for fossils. His field was not limited to dinosaurs. He was known to collect or obtain anything of possible scientific value. Often, he simply sent money to have fossils shipped to the AMNH, and any new specimen of interest often resulted in a flurry of letters between the discoverer and Brown.

After working a handful of years in Wyoming for AMNH in the late 1890s, Brown led an expedition to the Hell Creek Formation of Southeastern Montana. There, in 1902, he discovered and excavated the first documented remains of Tyrannosaurus rex.

The Hell Creek digs produced extravagant quantities of fossils, enough to fill up whole train cars. As was common practice back then Brown's crews used controlled blasts of dynamite to remove the tons of rock covering their fossil discoveries. Everything was moved with horse-drawn carriages and pure man-power. Seldom was any site data recorded.

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Feb 12, 1873
  • United States of America
  • University of Kansas
Feb 5, 1963
New York City

on July 23, 2013


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