Elmer Samuel Riggs (1869 - 1963)

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Birthplace: Trafalgar, Johnson, Indiana, United States
Death: Died in Sedan, Chautauqua, Kansas, United States
Occupation: paleontologist
Managed by: Tammy Swingle (Tucker)
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About Elmer Samuel Riggs

Elmer Samuel Riggs (January 23, 1869 – March 25, 1963) was an American paleontologist known for his work with the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois. He was born in Trafalgar, Indiana, and moved with his family to Kansas at a young age. He received bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Kansas and then worked with the American Museum of Natural History. In May 1898 he joined the staff of the Field Museum (then the Field Columbian Museum). Though he was a specialist in fossil mammals, the Field Museum hired him in part to secure dinosaurs for exhibit. He began in the summer of 1898 with a field season in the Oligocene White River beds of South Dakota and Nebraska working under his department chairman, Oliver Farrington, a famous meteoriticist. Riggs demonstrated a clear facility for fieldwork and was given the opportunity to lead his own expeditions. He conducted his first Field Museum expedition in 1899 working in the Morrison Formation rocks of Wyoming and Colorado. After corresponding with an MD during the winter of 1899/1900 he headed to the Morrison Formation in Western Colorado during the summer of 1900. On July 4th, 1900 Riggs' assistant, H. William Menke, found the first known skeleton of the giant sauropod dinosaur Brachiosaurus altithorax from near Grand Junction, Colorado. At the end of the 1900 field season Riggs' found a specimen of Apatosaurus near Fruita, a few miles from the Brachiosaurus site. This specimen was excavated during the 1901 field season, and was put on display in 1908 at the Field Museum. From these specimens he named Brachiosaurus and Brachiosauridae, and presented evidence that Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus were the same genus of dinosaur. He also proposed that sauropods were terrestrial animals, based on their limb structure, but this was largely dismissed in favor of aquatic sauropods until the 1970s, when the idea was revived by Robert Bakker.

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Elmer Riggs's Timeline

1869
January 23, 1869
Trafalgar, Johnson, Indiana, United States
1963
March 25, 1963
Age 94
Sedan, Chautauqua, Kansas, United States
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- 1942
Chicago, Illinois, United States