Brooklyn College
City University of New York

ROBERT PLOT: British vicar and professor of Chemistry at Oxford University. 1640-1696. Although totally unaware of dinosaurs, Plot published the first description of fossil material that was later identified as dinosaurian. He considered that the specimen he had described was part of a leg bone of one of the war elephants that the Roman general, Plautius, was thought to have brought with him when his legions invaded Britain in 72 AD.
Although Plot's view may seem unsophisticated in light of what we now know about dinosaurs, Plot was doing good science in interpreting his observations on an unknown object by invoking information about similar objects which had been described or discussed in the literature of the time. His specimen (shown at left) is clearly part of a femur, or upper leg bone of a terrestrial vertebrate. In suggesting that the bone came from a Roman war elephant, Plot made a rational interpretation based on knowledge available to him.

Return to Biography Menu