TCAP Success Grade 7 ELA Chapter 5

TCAP Success Grade 7 ELA Chapter 5 Sample

The Bone Wars and the Birth of Paleontology

1 Who discovered the first dinosaur fossil? No one knows for sure. But many experts believe that dinosaur fossils were first discovered thousands of years ago by our ancient ancestors. The discovery of these fossils may have led to a belief in mythological creatures such as dragons, giants, ogres, griffins, and sea serpents.

2 Eventually, dinosaur fossils were found all over the world, including North America. But most people were not impressed with these fossils because the majority of the fossils were very small. This changed when a nearly complete dinosaur skeleton was found on a New Jersey farm in 1838. This discovery eventually led to the famous "Bone Wars."

3 At this time in American history, competition to find and document new dinosaur species was fierce. Two scientists, Othniel Marsh and Edward Cope, were determined to find the most dinosaur fossils. At first, Marsh and Cope were friends and worked together to find dinosaur bones. However, big egos and jealousy got in the way of their friendship, and a feud called the "Bone Wars" began.

4 The feud was so out of control that both men paid others to steal fossils from each other. They were also dishonest about the authenticity of the fossils they were finding. And it was this dishonesty that led to one of Marsh’s greatest discoveries being dismissed by the scientific community.

5 During the Bone Wars, Marsh found an almost complete dinosaur skeleton. The skeleton was missing a head, so he used the skull of another dinosaur in order to complete the skeleton. Marsh named this dinosaur Apatosaurus. Drawings of this dinosaur were published in magazines and newspapers all over the country.

6 Later, Marsh received another dinosaur skeleton. Marsh believed this skeleton was an entirely new species of dinosaur, which he named Brontosaurus. In 1905, this new skeleton was put on display in Yale’s Peabody Museum. Marsh’s mistake was revealed when a scientist named Elmer Riggs discovered that the Brontosaurus was not a new species of dinosaur. Riggs determined that the Brontosaurus was really an adult Apatosaurus. Ironically, even though Riggs proved Marsh wrong, the Brontosaurus became a much beloved dinosaur and has been portrayed in movies and books.

7 There is no doubt that Marsh and Cope were the founding fathers of paleontology. They brought the past to life. While some scientists criticized the pair for their deceptive tactics, Marsh’s and Cope’s enormous contributions cannot be dismissed. They discovered more than one hundred thirty dinosaur species, collected thousands of fossils, and created hundreds of drawings. The Bone Wars unleashed a vast amount of information about dinosaurs and inspired many people to become paleontologists who would go on to unlock the secrets of the dinosaurs that had been buried for millions of years.

Bad Science in the Bone Wars

1 Even though the dinosaur named "Brontosaurus" continues to appear in books, cartoons, and movies, it’s long been known that the brontosaurus never actually existed. In fact, the Brontosaurus was a made-up dinosaur created from the skeleton bones of other dinosaurs. The "discovery" of the Brontosaurus happened when two rival paleontologists began a feud called the Bone Wars.

2 Marsh and Cope became friends and colleagues after meeting each other in Germany in the mid-1800s. At the time, Western Europe, not the United States, was at the forefront of dinosaur research. However, America became the center of attention for Marsh and Cope when competition among scientists to find dinosaur bones became intense after a dinosaur skeleton was discovered on a New Jersey farm. Both men were swept up in the excitement of finding dinosaur remains, and their determination to find the most dinosaur bones led to a bitter feud and the end of their friendship. This feud also led to Marsh and Cope spying on each other and stealing each other’s dinosaur bones. Their work was done hastily and sloppily. They misidentified fossils, created reconstructions that were full of errors, and published papers about dinosaurs based on insufficient data.

3 Perhaps the best-known example of the men’s carelessness was the Brontosaurus. In 1878, Marsh discovered a long-necked dinosaur skeleton that was missing its skull. He named this dinosaur Apatosaurus. Marsh used a skull from another dinosaur to make his discovery a complete dinosaur skeleton. Later that same year, Marsh found another dinosaur skeleton that he thought was a completely different species of dinosaur. Marsh named this "new" dinosaur Brontosaurus. However, in his haste, Marsh did not realize that his "new" dinosaur was actually a more complete, adult Apatosaurus.

4 In 1903, two responsible scientists discovered Marsh’s mistake. After carefully examining both skeletons, they determined that both dinosaurs were actually Apatosauruses. But because of Marsh’s quest for fame, and his resulting carelessness, the Brontosaurus myth has been taught, learned, and cherished as truth for years. Furthermore, the bitterness between Marsh and Cope damaged the trustworthiness within the scientific community, even driving the founder of vertebrate paleontology out of the field.

5 Some good did come out of the Bone Wars. Marsh and Cope’s discoveries sparked an interest in expanding the field of paleontology. And the Bone Wars led to more thorough and accurate studies by other scientists who wanted to discover the truth about dinosaurs, not falsify information to seek fame and glory. Thanks to Marsh and Cope, dinosaur skeletons were placed in museums, photographs and drawings of dinosaur fossils were published in newspapers, magazines, and journals. And the general public was introduced to the mysterious and fascinating creatures that roamed planet Earth millions of years ago.

1 pt

What is the author’s principal claim in Passage 1?

1 pt

Which of the following paragraphs best supports the correct answer to Part A?


What type of evidence does the author mostly use to support her claim in Passage 1?

1 pt

What is the author’s principal claim in Passage 2?

1 pt

Which of the following paragraphs best supports the correct answer to Part A?