William Elfe Tayler

by Ralph O'Connor
With titles to his credit such as and 19th-century writer W. Elfe Tayler was arguably more interested in the future inhabitants of heaven than the past inhabitants of Earth. But he wrote about geology, too, namely to argue, "whilst the facts of the science are plain and incontrovertible, the inferences which our most celebrated Geologists have drawn from them, are, on the contrary, of the most questionable character — being not only founded on data altogether uncertain and insufficient, but actually at variance with many of the phenomena of the Earth's surface, as described by themselves." In the preface of his so-called exposé of contemporary geologic theories, he vowed to "show their inconsistency both with reason and Scripture." In short, Tayler was a biblical literalist. But like geologists and paleontologists of his day, he still had to entice readers to buy his book, and as Ralph O'Connor argues, Tayler used the same sort of bait the geologists did: pictures of prehistoric beasts. The frontispiece of his book showed smiling marine reptiles and a very lizard-like dinosaur. The spike on its snout suggests it was . More complete fossil finds eventually showed paleontologists that the spike really resided on the dinosaur's thumb.


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