Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/98

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PSM V72 D098 The ryerson physical laboratory.png

The Ryerson Physical Laboratory.

the University of Chicago has enjoyed during the fifteen years since its foundation a development unparalleled in the history of education. Its grounds and buildings, its museums and laboratories, its educational methods and above all the great group of scholars and investigators who make the university will attract to the approaching meeting men of science from the whole country.


Our cities are more likely to erect monuments in honor of soldiers and statesmen than to commemorate in this way their intellectual leaders. Philadelphia should therefore be congratulated on having placed by its city hall a statue of its great naturalist, Joseph Leidy. Thanks most of all to him, but also to a group of fellow students, Philadelphia maintained for a time during the second half of the last century a certain preeminence in natural history. We may hope that the dedication of this statue of Professor Leidy on October 30 indicates that the city appreciates the golden age in its history, and will seek to regain its leading position as a center for research in biological science.

Joseph Leidy was born in Philadelphia in 1823; he spent his life in that city, and died there in 1891. He graduated from the medical school of the University of Pennsylvania in 1844, and maintaining his connection with the university as assistant and demonstrator was elected professor of anatomy in 1853. His connection with the Academy of Natural Sciences was equally long and intimate, and he was also professor at Swarthmore College. His scientific work was closely connected with Philadelphia. Most of his six hundred papers were published in the proceedings of the academy and of the Philosophical Society. His paleontological papers were based mainly on the collections of the academy, and his work on recent invertebrates on material collected in and about the city.

Leidy published over two hundred papers on the extinct vertebrates of North America, leading in the work in which he was subsequently joined by Cope and Marsh of describing the remarkable fossils of the western plains. As early as 1847 he showed that this continent was the ancestral home of the horse, whose phylogeny is one of the most interesting chapters in the history of evolution, and this paper was followed by others describing the lions, camels, rhinoceros and other mammals and reptiles, which have now no immediate representatives on the continent. Perhaps equally important was Leidy's work on parasites, on