History of paleontology in the United States
The history of paleontology in the United States refers to the developments and discoveries regarding fossils found within or by people from the United States of America. Local paleontology began informally with Native Americans, who have been familiar with fossils for thousands of years. They both told myths about them and applied them to practical purposes. African slaves also contributed their knowledge; the first reasonably accurate recorded identification of vertebrate fossils in the new world was made by slaves on a South Carolina plantation who recognized the elephant affinities of mammoth molars uncovered there in 1725. The first major fossil discovery to attract the attention of formally trained scientists were the Ice Age fossils of Kentucky's Big Bone Lick. These fossils were studied by eminent intellectuals like France's George Cuvier and local statesmen and frontiersman like Daniel Boone, Benjamin Franklin, William Henry Harrison, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington. By the end of the 18th century possible dinosaur fossils had already been found.By the beginning of the 19th, their fossil footprints definitely had. Later in the century as more dinosaur fossils were uncovered eminent paleontologists Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh were embroiled in a bitter rivalry to collect the most fossils and name the most new prehistoric species. Early in the 20th century major finds continued, like the Ice Age mammals of the La Brea Tar Pits, the Oligocene bonebeds of South Dakota, and the Triassic bonebeds of New Mexico. Mid-to-late twentieth century discoveries in the United States triggered the Dinosaur Renaissance as the discovery of the bird-like Deinonychus overturned misguided notions of dinosaurs as plodding lizard-like animals, cemented their sophisticated physiology and relationship with birds. Other notable finds include Maiasaura, which provided early evidence for parental care in dinosaurs and ""Seismosaurus"" the largest known dinosaur.