Benjamin Franklin Mudge
1817 – 1879
Who was Benjamin Franklin Mudge?
Benjamin Franklin Mudge was an American lawyer, geologist and teacher. Briefly the mayor of Lynn, Massachusetts, he later moved to Kansas where he was appointed the first State Geologist. He led the first geological survey of the state in 1864, and published the first book on the geology of Kansas. He lectured extensively, and was department chair at the Kansas State Agricultural College.
He also avidly collected fossils, and was one of the first to systematically explore the Permian and Mesozoic biota in the geologic formations of Kansas and the American West, including the Niobrara Chalk, the Morrison Formation, and the Dakota Sandstone. While not formally trained in paleontology, he kept extensive and accurate field notes and sent most of his fossils East to be described by some of the most noted paleontologists of his time, including the rivals Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope.
His discoveries included at least 80 new species of extinct animals and plants, and are found in the collections of some of the most prestigious U.S. institutions of natural history, including the Smithsonian and Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History. One of his most notable finds is the holotype of the first recognized "bird with teeth", Ichthyornis. While working for Marsh, he also discovered the type species of the sauropod dinosaur Diplodocus, and the theropod dinosaur Allosaurus, with his protégé Samuel Wendell Williston.
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