Humanity’s interested in dinosaur fossilized bones has been recorded for as long as we have had a written history. The ancient Chinese thought they were dragon bones, and were used in traditional medicine. The ancient Europeans thought they were evidence of giants and other fantastic monsters, and later on they were used as supporting evidence of the Biblical flood.
The name ‘dinosaur’ wasn’t coined until 1842, by palaeontologist Richard Owen. He had been reading about the discoveries of the geologist Reverend William Buckland and of Mary Ann Mantell, wife of the Gideon Mantell (a doctor and a palaeontologist).
As an aside, of course, Mary Ann Mantell couldn’t be qualified as a geologist in her own right in this misogynistic era. Her husband always gave conflicting stories of how the dinosaur tooth was found, but it was recognised that Mary Ann had originally found the tooth on a walk and presented to her husband. Mrs Mantell went on to discover a number of fossils for her husband, whose medical practice suffered due to his obsession with fossils. I suspect she tired of his getting the credit for her efforts, because she divorced him after 23 years of marriage.
Victorian dinosaur fever took over in both the field of science and the public arena. There is evidence of the Victorian’s mania still around today. The Crystal Palace Dinosaurs are a series of sculptures of dinosaurs and other animals, in Crystal Palace Park in England. They were made in 1852 to decorate the surrounds of the Crystal Palace – after it was moved to its present day location after the closure of the Great Exhibition.
One the first American dinosaur was found in 1858, the popularity of dinosaurs escalated world wide. Palaeontology became the obsession of the professional and amateur alike. Its popularity got another boost when Darwin published his famous book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Dinosaurs were clear evidence that there had been very different animals roaming the earth in previous eras.
I am most certainly writing dinosaurs into some of my narratives.