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Early life

Born in Lille in 1857, Louis Dollo completed a degree in Civil Engineering in 1877, and spent five years working as a mining engineer. In 1882, he began work at the Brussels museum, in order to pursue his passion for palaeontology. He was it seems a rather quiet, dispassionate fellow. His peculiar style of writing, as he put it "a consequence of a strong mathematical education" was lacking in fluidity, to say the least. He was also a firm believer in the reductionist principle that there were fundamental forces that guided the organic world as it did the inorganic, and as such theorised that evolutionary forces could not be reversed.

Fossil discoveries

Louis Dollo was lucky enough to be working at the Museum of Brussels in 1878, when a total of thirty one Iguanodon specimens were discovered 321m deep in a coal mine in Bernissart. They were of what we now know to be two separate species, I. mantelli (smaller, as found by Gideon Mantell in the Weald) and I. bernissartiensis (specific to this site), although Dollo at the time could not discount the possibility that the size differences were due to ontogeny or sexual dimorphism. In somewhat juxtaposition, the skeletons had to be assembled in a local church, as the museum was not large enough to house them.

The discovery of such a large quantity of well preserved bones allowed Dollo to redescribe Iguanodon as bipedal, as opposed to Richard Owen’s now defunct quadrupedal models. It also showed that what were previously thought to be horns were in fact thumb spikes, used presumably for defence.
See also - Owen's Dinosauria

References and Further Reading

(1) Gould, S. J. 1970. “Dollo on Dollo's Law: Irreversibility and the Status of Evolutionary Laws.” Journal of the History of Biology, 3, No.2:189-212
(2) Dollo, L. 1905."Les Dinosauriens adaptés à la vie quadrupède secondaire." Bulletine. Soc. belge Geol. Pal. Hydr., 19: 441-448
(3) Dollo, L. 1882. "Première note sur les dinosauriens de Bernissart". Bulletin du Musée Royal d'Histoire Naturelle de Belgique 1: 161-180
(4) Dollo, L.1883. "Note sur les restes de dinosauriens recontrés dans le Crétacé Supérieur de la Belgique". Bulletin du Musée Royal d'Histoire Naturelle de Belgique 2: 205-221


louis dollo
Louis Dollo