Dr. James Deane of Greenfield: Edward Hitchcock's Rival Discoverer of Dinosaur Tracks



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This is the first biography of Dr. James Deane (1801-1858) of Greenfield MA, a pioneer in the discovery and interpretation of the first dinosaur prints ever found. He conducted two careers simultaneously, one in medicine––he published several key articles on surgery in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal––and the other in paleontology, where he also published importantly. In 1835 he informed Amherst’s Edward Hitchcock, the state geologist, of the sandstone prints of a prehistoric animal then thought to be a large bird. Hitchcock founded the new science of Ichnology (stony bird tracks) and took the lead, but in the early 1840s Deane began publishing new finds and the two became rivals. Deane’s posthumous book of 1861, Ichnographs from the Sandstone of Connecticut River, was among the first to publish salt print photographs of fossil “bird” prints, subsequently identified as dinosaur tracks. 


With the collaboration of Sarah Doyle and photography by Bill Finn and Ed Gregory


James Deane, Edward Hitchcock (1793-1864), paleontology, ichnology, dinosaur, salt print photographs, Greenfield, Amherst, Connecticut River Valley