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June 17, 2024 39 mins

The Missouri Leviathan was an enormous skeleton made of fossilized bones that were excavated and assembled by Albert C. Koch. Was it a hoax, or just bad science? 

Research: 

  • Lotzof, Kerry. “Missouri Leviathan: the making of an American mastodon.” Natural History Museum (London). https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/the-making-of-an-american-mastodon.html
  • Wanko, Andrew. “Great River City: The Missouri Leviathan.” Missouri Historical Society. 12/12/2019. https://mohistory.org/blog/great-river-city-the-missouri-leviathan
  • Missouri State Parks. “At Mastodon State Historic Site.” https://mostateparks.com/page/54983/historic-site-history
  • Phillips, Nicholas. “This odd creature from Missouri once gained international fame.” St. Louis Magazine. 5/8/2020. https://www.stlmag.com/culture/missouri-leviathan-albert-koch-mastodon-kimmswick/
  • Ashworth, William. “Scientist of the Day: Albert C. Koch.” Linda Hall Library. 5/10/2022. https://www.lindahall.org/about/news/scientist-of-the-day/albert-c-koch/
  • Mackenthun, Gesa. “Albert Koch.” Universitat Rostock. 3/4/2016. https://www.iaa.uni-rostock.de/forschung/laufende-forschungsprojekte/american-antiquities-prof-mackenthun/project/agents/albert-c-koch/
  • Buckley, S.B. “On the Zeuglodon Remains of Alabama.” American Journal of Science and Arts, Band 52.
  • Dana, James D. “On Dr. Koch's Evidence with Regard to the Cotemporaneity of Man and the Mastodon in Missouri.” American Journal of Science and the Arts, Vol. IX, May 1875.
  • Hoy, P.R. “Dr. Koch’s Missorium.” The American Naturalist Volume 5, Issue 3. May, 1871. https://doi.org/10.1086/270728
  • Krause, Stefan. “From Prehistory to Deep History: The Coloniality of Counting Time.” Universitat Rostock.
  • Proceedings of the Geological Society of London. Vol. 3, Part 2. No. 87. 1842.
  • Hensley, John R. “Transactions of the Academy of Science of St. Louis.” Vol. 33, No. 1.
  • McMillan, R. Bruce. “Objects of Curiosity: Albert Koch’s `1840 St. Louis Museum.” The Living Museum vol. 42, no. 02,03; 1980. Via Illinois Digital Archives.
  • McMillan, R. Bruce. “More than a Fossil Hunter: The Life and Pursuits of Charles W. Beehler.” The Confluence. Spring/Summer 2013.
  • Hazen, Robert M. "Phenomena, comment and notes." Smithsonian, vol. 22, no. 7, Oct. 1991, pp. 28+. Gale In Context: U.S. History, link.gale.com/apps/doc/A11373982/GPS?u=mlin_n_melpub&sid=bookmark-GPS&xid=99bffd4a. Accessed 22 May 2024.
  • Bruce Mcmillan, R. "ALBERT C. KOCH'S MISSOURIUM AND THE DEBATE OVER THE CONTEMPORANEITY OF HUMANS AND THE PLEISTOCENE MEGAFAUNA OF NORTH AMERICA." Earth Sciences History, vol. 41, no. 2, July 2022, pp. 410+. Gale In Context: Science, dx.doi.org/10.17704/1944-6187-41.2.410. Accessed 22 May 2024.
  • Mcmillan, R. Bruce. "ALBERT KOCH'S HYDRARCHOS: A HOAX OR A BONA FIDE COLLECTION OF BONES." Earth Sciences History, vol. 42, no. 1, Jan. 2023, pp. 84+. Gale In Context: Science, dx.doi.org/10.17704/1944-6187-42.1.84. Accessed 22 May 2024.
  • Rieppel, Lukas. “Albert Koch’s Hydrarchos Craze: Credibility, Identity, and Authenticity in Nineteenth-Century Natural History.” From: Science Museums in Transition: Cultures of Display in Nineteenth-Century Britain and America. 1 ed. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017. muse.jhu.edu/book/52515
  • Koch, Albert C. “Description of Missourium, or Missouri leviathan : together with its supposed habits and Indian traditions concerning the location from whence it was exhumed; also, comparisons of the whale, crocodile and missourium with the leviathan, as described in 41st chapter of the book of Job.” Louisville, Ky. : Prentice and Weissinger. 1841.
  • “The Missourium.” The Farmers' Cabinet and American Herd-Book : Devoted to Agriculture, Horticulture, and Rural and Domestic Affairs 1841-12-15: Vol 6 Iss 5.
  • Veit, Richard. "Mastodons, Mound Builders, and Montroville Wilson Dickeson–Pioneering American Archaeologist." Expedition Magazine 41, no. 3 (November, 1999): -. Accessed May 24, 2024. https://www.penn.museum/sites/expedition/mastodons-mound-builders-and-montroville-wilson-dickeson-pioneering-american-archaeologist/

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to Stuff You Missed in History Class, a production
of iHeartRadio. Hello, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Tracy V.
Wilson and I'm Holly Fry.

Speaker 2 (00:16):
I don't remember which historical hoax we talked about on
the show that led me to put the Missouri Leviathan
on my short list. I do remember, though, that I
didn't want to do this episode immediately because I like
find the hoax episodes to be very fun, but I
also like to spread them out a little bit, since

(00:37):
they can seem a little bit repetitive if they get
all bunched up together. After doing this research, I'm not
entirely convinced that hoax is actually the right word for
the Missouri Leviathan. But regardless, now it has been long
enough since I put this on a list that I
don't even remember what the episode was that inspired it,
so that seems like it's been long enough that it

(01:00):
will not seem repetitive.

Speaker 1 (01:03):
The Missouri Leviathan was an enormous skeleton made of fossilized
bones that were excavated and assembled by Albert C. Kock.
He was born on May tenth, eighteen oh four, in Saxony.
That's now Germany. His parents were Johann Yusebius Sigismund Cock
and Johanna Maria Vellemine Martini. We don't know a whole

(01:25):
lot about his early life, but he came to the
United States in eighteen twenty six and initially settled in Pennsylvania.
One of the ways Cock tried to make a living
after arriving in the United States was collecting and selling
specimens for natural history museums. That might sound kind of
weird today, but it was not all that uncommon as

(01:46):
a way for people to make money at the time.
The first natural history museums as we would recognize them today,
date back to about the seventeenth century, but a lot
more of them opened in the eighteenth and nineteenth century.
This included museums that were established by universities and institutions
other formal organizations, as well as ones that were just

(02:08):
started by individual people who wanted to start a museum.
This surge was driven by a public fascination with ongoing
discoveries in the natural sciences, like entire fields like palaeodology
were just getting established. This was also paired with a
rise in leisure time among some economic classes, so more

(02:29):
people had time to do things like visit museums, so
there was a huge market for all kinds of objects
to go in such museums. Cock partnered with various people
in his collecting business as he moved from place to place,
and he sold objects to a museum in Berlin as
well as to institutions in the United States. Before leaving Pennsylvania,

(02:51):
Cock married Elizabeth Reid. They would eventually go on to
have four children. By eighteen thirty they'd moved to Michigan,
and by eighteen thirty five if they were in Saint Louis, Missouri.
In Saint Louis, Cox started a museum of his own
and that opened in eighteen thirty six. Like many early
natural history museums, the Saint Louis Museum followed in the

(03:12):
footsteps of Renaissance era cabinets of curiosities, which were cabinets
or even entire rooms where well off people collected things
like fossils, shells, animal specimens, and even works of art.
These were also still around by the nineteenth century, and
Cox's father, who was a magistrate in their village in Saxony,

(03:32):
had one of these in their home, so it's possible
that that was the inspiration for Cox Museum. Cox Museum
was near where the Gateway Art stands today, and it
was full of all kinds of things, plants and animal specimens, taxidermy.

Speaker 2 (03:48):
Fossils, shells, pieces of coral and Egyptian artifacts. On February
twenty second, eighteen thirty eight, he announced that he had
purchased the collection of William Clark, who had teamed up
with Meriwether Lewis for the Core of Discovery expedition across
the western part of North America. Clark had developed a

(04:09):
huge collection of indigenous artwork and other objects during this
expedition and during his military service and his time working
as an Indian agent. The details are a little fuzzy
about exactly how Cock acquired this collection. A number of
sources say that he bought it after William Clark's death,

(04:31):
but Clark died on September first, eighteen thirty eight, and
that was a few months after this acquisition was announced.
A lot of the objects in the Saint Louis Museum
would have a home in a natural history museum today,
but a lot of the natural history museums of this
era also had a focus on almost vaudeville like entertainment

(04:52):
and spectacles that didn't necessarily have a place in the
real world. That was the case for the Saint Louis
Museum as well. Albert Kok and his museum are often
compared to P. T. Barnum, who became tightly associated with
both showmanship and flimflam. Some of Cock's exhibits would be
compared to Barnum's Fiji Mermaid, which was made from a

(05:13):
monkey and a fish like. Cock had an animal that
he called the proc which he said was the size
of a mule, with stripes like a zebra and the
head of a rhinoceros. The Saint Louis Museum also had
a dramatic saloon for entertainers to perform in a dramatic
saloon not an uncommon addition to natural history museums of

(05:36):
this era.

Speaker 1 (05:37):
I feel like there's a speakeasy opportunity here. Cock was
also an avid fossil collector, including the fossilized bones of
the megafauna that had lived in North America until the
end of the Last Ice Age, so things like mastodons
and giant ground sloths, and that is what led to

(05:58):
the creation of the Missouri Leviathan. There are a number
of stories about exactly how he came into possession of
these fossilized bones, possibly because he used bones from multiple
animals to do it. One story is that in eighteen
thirty eight he heard about a farmer on the Brebus River

(06:18):
in east central Missouri who had been trying to improve
a spring and found several bones in the process. Another
is that a year later, in eighteen thirty nine, he
heard that a farmer near Rock Creek in Kimswick, southeast
of Saint Louis, had found some bones in a field.
Kock is known to have excavated massdon bones from at

(06:41):
least three places, those two that we just mentioned and
a site on the Poonditaire River. Cock had no formal
training as a paleontologist or a naturalist or a museum curator,
but neither did a lot of other people doing this
same work in the eighteen thirties. We don't really know
if he'd ever read any of the existing literature about

(07:03):
mastodons in their anatomine, so it's not entirely clear whether
he intentionally assembled the bones of multiple animals to make
one deceptively enormous skeleton, or if He thought this was
what a real animal had looked like, and he used
the bones of multiple animals to basically fill in what
he thought were gaps.

Speaker 2 (07:23):
The skeleton he assembled and displayed at his museum, calling
it the Missourium or the Missouri Leviathan, belonged to what
he said was an animal thirty two feet long and
fifteen feet tall. That's almost ten meters long and four
and a half meters tall. As we said, an adult
American mastodon was about the size of an elephant, so

(07:46):
males were typically a little less than ten feet tall
or three meters tall. Those are approximate conversions, obviously, Although
some people use the word mastodon and mammoth interchangeably, these
were different animals, with macedons typically being shorter and stockier
with straighter tusks than mammoths had. This assemblage had at

(08:10):
least ten more vertebrae than a mastodon would have had.
Kock also placed spacers between the vertebrae to make the
skeleton even longer. He also used a couple of ribs
to make the collar bones. He claimed that the Missourium
was aquatic, and added long bones to the skeleton's toes
to create what looked like webbed feet, and rather than

(08:32):
having the animal's tusks point forward, he pointed them out
to the side. Here is his explanation for these sideways
pointing tusks, taken from a pamphlet that he wrote and
published in eighteen forty one, which was titled Description of
Missourium or Missouri Leviathan, together with its supposed habits and

(08:53):
Indian traditions concerning the location from which it was exhumed.
Also comparisons of the whale, crocodile, and Basoorium with the
Leviathan is described in the forty first chapter of the
Book of Job quote.

Speaker 1 (09:08):
As I was.

Speaker 2 (09:08):
Successful in finding the right tusks solid in the head
when I first discovered it, and as it remained fixed
in its socket during its excavation and transportation over a
very rough and wilderness country, I am enabled therefore to
give a correct and indisputable description of the position and
situation which the tusts occupied in the skull of the

(09:31):
animal during its life. They were carried by him almost horizontally,
bending somewhat down and coming with their points up again.
Their length is ten feet exclusive of one foot inches
from which formed the root and is hidden from the
eye of the observer as it is concealed in and
under the skull. In other words, he said he knew

(09:53):
the animal's tusks swept out to the side because that's
the way one of them was pointing when he found it,
and it didn't move from that position in all of
the jostling it took to get it back to the museum.
We'll talk about what he said. These sideways, pointing tusks
were four after we paused for a sponsor break.

Speaker 1 (10:20):
According to Albert Cock, the Missouri Leviathan was a giants
aquatic animal armored like an alligator. He had made it
from Macedon bones. But in his pamphlet Description of the
Missourium or Missouri Leviathan, which we read the entire title
of before the break, he not only said it was
not a Masthdon, but also that it had several notable

(10:44):
differences from a masdon. He wrote, quote, the most striking
difference between the Leviathan and the Macedon are First, the
leviathan had no trunk, therefore could not be classed under
the Probosa genus. Second, its toes were armed with claws
or nails, and this circumstance prevents its being classed with

(11:04):
the hoofed animals, to which class the mastodon belongs. Third,
the Leviathan has twenty four dorsal vertebrae and forty eight ribs,
whereas the mastodon has nineteen dorsal vertebrae in thirty eight ribs. Fourth,
the scapula or shoulder blade is materially shorter in the
Leviathan than in the mastodon. Also, the ribs are much smaller. Fifth,

(11:27):
the dental system at the first view somewhat resembles that
of the mastodon, but upon a close examination the observer
will perceive that the teeth of the Leviathan are much
smaller in proportion to the maxillary bones than those of
the mastodon, and also better calculated for masticulating softer substances.
He had this to say about how the Missouri Leviathan

(11:50):
existed in its purported habitat, which is where we find
out about those sideways tusks quote. The animal has been,
without doubt an inhabitant of water courses such as large
rivers and lakes, which is proven by the formation of
the bones. First, his feet were webbed. Second, all his
bones were solid, and without marrow, as the aquatic animals

(12:13):
of the present day. Third, his ribs were too small
and slender to resist the many pressures and bruises they
would be subject to on land. Fourth, his legs are
short and thick. Five his tail is flat and broad.
Sixth and last, his tusks are so situated in the
head that it would be utterly impossible for him to

(12:35):
exist in a timbered country. He possessed, also, like the hippopotamus,
the faculty of walking on the bottom of waters and
rose occasionally to take air. The singular position of the
tusks has been very wisely adapted by the creator for
the protection of the body from the many injuries which

(12:55):
it would be exposed while swimming or walking under the water.
Cox pamphlet also incorporated what he described as indigenous traditions,
although with this caveat quote, it is perfectly true that
we cannot with any degree of certainty depend on Indian traditions,
but it is equally true that generally these traditions are

(13:17):
founded on events which have actually transpired. From there, he
related a whole story that he claimed was an indigenous
legend about the arrival of the first O sage and
a war with giant animals living in the area. It
is completely unclear whether this is something an indigenous person
told him or if he just made it up. I
can imagine an indigenous person telling him this to see

(13:40):
if he believed it. Yeah, and even if it was
based in a real legend that was part of indigenous
law and culture like that was not really his to
share for hours. The pamphlet also connected the Missouri Leviathan
to the sea serpent love Viiathan described in the Hebrew Bible,

(14:02):
including in the Book of Job. It's sort of a
close reading of the Biblical verses drawing purported connections to
the fossil. It goes through the whole.

Speaker 2 (14:12):
Biblical text with like connections to this creature. Here is
just an example from this quote, the thirteenth and fourteenth verse,
who can discover the face of his garment, or who
can come to him with his double bridle? Who can
open the doors of his face? His teeth are terrible roundabout.

(14:37):
The first sentence again has reference to his shield or covering.
Doubtless no one could approach him without incurring imminent danger,
not even near enough to discover the face of his
garment or in other words, to examine the construction in
particular parts of his covering the latter part of the
thirteenth and the whole of the fourteenth. First take particular
notice of his enormous grinders an immense tes usks, more

(15:01):
especially to the situation which these latter occupy in the skull.

Speaker 1 (15:06):
And in a claim that prompted a lot of controversy,
Cock wrote that he had also found objects clearly made
by human beings, proving that these animals lived at the
same time that humans did. He started by describing a
different find, which may have been a ground sloth, before
moving on to the Leviathan quote. There was embedded immediately

(15:27):
under the femur or hind leg bone of this animal
an arrowhead of rose colored flint, resembling those used by
the American Indians, but of a larger size. This was
the only arrowhead immediately with the skeleton, but in the
same strata, at a distance of five or six feet
in a horizontal direction, four more arrowheads were found. Three

(15:49):
of these were of the same formation as the preceding.
The fourth was of a very rude workmanship. One of
the last mentioned three was of agate, The others of
blueft lint. These arrowheads are indisputably the work of human hands.
I examined the deposit in which they were embedded and
raised them out of their embedment with my own hands.

Speaker 2 (16:11):
A lot of the back and forth about this conclusion
played out in scientific journals later on, so we will
be returning to it in a bit. But Kock had
hoped his so called Missourium would bring in big crowds
to the Saint Louis Museum. When it didn't, he tried
another tack, which was to take the skeleton on tour.

Speaker 1 (16:32):
He sold the museum to W. S. McPherson on January twentieth,
eighteen forty one. One thing that's not clear is what
happened to William Clark's collection when Kock made this sale.
Theoretically it should have stayed with the museum, but it
apparently didn't, and later on members of the Clark family
accused Kok of stealing it. In Philadelphia, Cock displayed the

(16:57):
Missourium at the Masonic Hall the skeleton and attracted the
attention of the local scientific community. An expert started pointing
out issues with Cox's work. This included paleontologist Richard Harlan
and anatomist Paul Goddard of the Academy of Natural Science
in Philadelphia. Harlan published a thorough description of the skeleton

(17:18):
in the American Journal of Science and Arts, and in
it he had this to say, quote one of the
most extensive and remarkable collections of fossil bones of extinct
species of mammals which have hitherto been brought to light
in this country, a gratification for which our scientific community
will acknowledge themselves, indebted to the perseverance of the enterprising proprietor,

(17:42):
mister Albert Cock of Saint Louis, Missouri. This collection consists
mainly of the largest skeleton of an aged mastodon, hitherto
disinterred in America. Nearly complete, the proprietor, not possessing the
advantage of anatomical knowledge, has committed some errors in the

(18:03):
articulation of the bones, which no doubt his ulterior researches
will enable him to rectify. Among these errors may be
noticed here ten or more supernumery vertebrae in the spinal column,
some supernumery ribs, and the first rib occupying the position
of the clavicle, et cetera. So Harlan recognized that these

(18:25):
were macedon bones, not bones of some newly discovered creature.
But he also really gave Cock the benefit of the doubt,
framing his decisions on how he put all this together
as errors that were brought about by ignorance, rather than
an intentional effort to deceive people. At a meeting of
the National Academy of Sciences in October of eighteen forty one,

(18:48):
Goddard reported on his examination of the skeleton. He said
he had found it to be quote, a skeleton composed
of mastodon bones, most of which appeared to belong to
a single set, any however, having been superadded, and others
mended and glued together in a manner holy erroneous. Goddard

(19:08):
then walked through various errors he had noticed in the
skeleton's spine, ribs, head, shoulder, blades, and feet. Cock did
have supporters, though a rebuttal of Goddard's report appeared in
The Farmer's Cabinet and American Herd Book by someone who
signed their work only as j M, whose identity I

(19:28):
was not able to confirm. This rebuttal began quote. The
most charitable conclusion is that doctor Goddard took not the
opportunity to examine sufficiently the bones of the Missourium, and
is therefore entirely unacquainted with their particular construction and confirmation.
Before refuting Goddard's observations point by point, you ask a

(19:51):
lot of questions, like how had Goddard been able to
get up high enough to see what he said was
glue on skeleton's snout. Cock does not seem to have
heeded these criticisms before taking the Missourium across the Atlantic.
He displayed the skeleton at the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, London,

(20:13):
and it once again attracted the attention of experts. These
experts included Richard Owen, who coined the term dinosaur in
eighteen forty one. Owen pointed out a lot of the
same flaws as Goddard and Harlan had. In eighteen forty two,
he read a report before the Geological Society of London
in which he noted that Kak had addressed one error

(20:34):
in how he had mounted two of the ribs, but
said any other changes would cost too much money.

Speaker 2 (20:41):
One of Owen's comments on this was about the position
of those tusks and why Cock might have found the
skull with one of the tusks pointing out to the side.
Quote with respect to the horizontal position of the tusks
and the skeleton exhibited at the Egyptian Hall, mister Owen
states that it may have arisen from compression, the tusk

(21:01):
of the masodon, like that of the elephant, being inserted
by a nearly straight cylindrical base in a socket of
corresponding form, and can be rotated in any given direction
when the natural attachments are destroyed by decomposition, and he
alludes to the skeleton exhibited in London in eighteen oh five,
in which the tusks were bent downward.

Speaker 1 (21:22):
But like other experts who had examined the Missouri Leviathan,
Owen recognized the value of the bones themselves, so in
eighteen forty four he bought the Leviathan for the British Museum,
where he was superintendent of Natural History. Some articles report
the sale price as two thousand dollars and others as

(21:43):
thirteen hundred pounds, and a lot of sources, including the
website of the Natural History Museum, which was formed from
the British Museum's natural history collection, say that Cock was
also paid one thousand dollars a year for the rest
of his life, but an article by all Or Bruce
McMillan describes this annual payment in connection to a different sale,

(22:04):
one that we're going to talk about after we pause
for a sponsor break.

Speaker 2 (22:17):
After buying the so called Missouri Leviathan from Albert Cock,
Richard Owen took it apart and reassembled the appropriate bones
into a single Macedon skeleton, and this new configuration was
relatively correct. Today this Macedon is on display at the
Natural History Museum in London, and according to Adrian Lister,

(22:40):
who's a paleobiologist at the museum, it's still mostly as
Owen articulated it. This makes it the first accurately assembled
Masdon skeleton in the world. Cock had taken his family
with him when he left the US for Europe, and
when he set sale to return to the United States
on May twenty sixth, eighteen forty four, his wife and

(23:01):
their four children stayed behind. It seemed like for a
stretch of time they lived in Dresden while he made
trips back and forth to the United States. After a
really terrible storm filled crossing back to the Uskock arrived
back in New York, where he visited Barnum's American Museum.
Then he spent some time traveling around New York and

(23:23):
New England, collecting fossils and shark's teeth and other specimens.
He kept a diary in German which he published in
Dresden in eighteen forty seven. This was later translated into
English as Journey through a part of the United States
of North America in the years eighteen forty four to
eighteen forty six.

Speaker 1 (23:42):
Cock eventually returned to Saint Louis, where he went back
to looking for large fossil bones. He also started purchasing
mines and mineral rights, beginning with a lead mine in
Franklin County, Missouri. By eighteen forty five, even though he
had no medical training and there is no evidence of
him ever earning it doctoral degree, he was calling himself doctor.

(24:04):
That year, he excavated another assortment of fossilized bones that
he assembled into one skeleton, which he called the Hydruggists,
meaning King of the Waters. This measured one hundred and
fourteen feet or almost thirty five meters long. He dug
these bones up in Alabama after trying to find the

(24:25):
source of various large bones that were all around the area.
People just kind of had gigantic bones as part of
their home and business decor. Cock tried to get these
bones to New York by sea, but there was a
shipwreck along the way, and Cock thought all of his
work had been lost until he learned that salvagers had
managed to get the crates off the ship before it sank,

(24:47):
and because they considered these bones to be scientific specimens,
he was not charged a fee to get them back.
Cox's so called sea serpents was really from the prehistoric
way genus Basilosaurus, and the one hundred and fourteen foot
long skeleton that he created probably included the bones from
at least three animals. Because of his earlier work with

(25:11):
the Missouri Leviathan, a lot of palaeontologists and other experts
just started out from the point of view that this
was definitely a hoax. But Cock once again went on
tour with this skeleton, with one of the people who
saw it being Edward Drinker Cope, who would later become
notorious for his involvement in a feud with Ovnil Charles

(25:33):
Marsh that is known today as the Bone Wars. We
just ran that as a Saturday classic. Kok and the
Hydrarchus wound up at the Leipzig Fair in eighteen forty seven,
and Friedrich Wilhelm, the fourth King of Prussia, bought it,
placing it on display in Berlin's Royal Anatomical Museum. The

(25:53):
king gave Kock an annual lifelong stipend of a thousand
Reich dollars. It's possible that various sources are conflating this
with what Richard Owen paid him for the Leviathan in
eighteen forty four. Yeah, I had trouble really confirming whether
he was getting two different annual stipends in the amount

(26:14):
of a thousand of something, or whether they kind of
melded together in retelling. Even though his work with this
quote Sea Serpent had already been widely discredited, Cock published
a booklet on it in Dresden in eighteen fifty. This title,
which I just ran through Google Translate from German, was

(26:37):
remarks on the family of hydros, which consists of several species,
the largest and most powerful predatory animals in the prehistoric world.
In addition to a few words about the discovery of
the large Zugludon macro Spondulis Muller, which belongs to that family,
which was found by the author in Alabama in eighteen

(26:57):
forty eight, and from then first was brought to Dresden,
with a second section containing some battle scenes of the
Indians and the white settlers of America, told as briefly
as possible. Uh This booklet totaled thirty two pages, The
first seventeen were the title Feels Like It Back in

(27:19):
the US. Physician and archaeologist Montroval Wilson Dickson commissioned John L.
Egan to create a panoramic painting to accompany his lectures,
one that could be wound onto two big rollers that
changed the scene behind him as he spoke. This twenty
five panel panorama depicted things like Mississippi Valley wildlife, indigenous peoples,

(27:43):
warfare between those peoples and Europeans, steamboats, excavations of indigenous
burial mounds, and Cock's discovery and excavation of the Missouri Leviathan.

Speaker 2 (27:55):
After returning to the US again, Cock became an active
member of the Academy of Science in Saint Louis and
was elected to membership of that body on April twenty first,
eighteen fifty six. At some point he assembled another sea
serpent skeleton, this one ninety six feet long. This was
known as the Great Zuglidon. He sold this to E. L.

(28:17):
Wood for his museum in Chicago.

Speaker 1 (28:20):
And during his later years, Cox's ideas on humankind living
alongside extinct megafauna became the subject of contentious debate. He
published work on this in the Transactions of the Academy
of Science of Saint Louis in eighteen fifty nine, writing quote,
I will state then that in the year eighteen fifty nine,
I discovered and disinterred in Gasconade County, Missouri, bones of

(28:44):
the above named animals. The bones were sufficiently well preserved
for me to decide positively that they belonged to Mastodon gigantius.
Some remarkable portion bones had been more or less burned
by fire. The fire had extended but a few feet
beyond the space occupied by the animal before its destruction,

(29:05):
and there was more than sufficient evidence on the spot
that the fire had not been an accidental one, but
on the contrary, that it had been kindled by human agency, and,
according to all appearance, with the design of killing the
huge creature. Cook also wrote that he had found stones
in the area, including throwing stones, projectile points, spearheads, axes, etc.

(29:29):
To him, this represented irrefutable proof that humans had hunted
these animals as we know today. Kok was correct.

Speaker 2 (29:40):
Some of the responses to his work that were published
from the eighteen fifties through the eighteen seventies and beyond
thought that it was possible that humans and Macedons had
lived at the same time in North America, but many
of them argued that the evidence Cock was presenting to
support this was not enough to prove it. This was

(30:02):
actually also correct. These Macedons became extinct roughly thirteen thousand
years ago, and subsequent radiocarbon dating has shown that a
lot of the projectile points and other human made objects
that were found around these bones are a lot more
recent than that I would say radiocarbon dating. Like other

(30:23):
studies like Okay, these these projectile points are not from
the period that the Macedons were living. It's likely that
the presence of these objects in the same springs and
other waterways where the bones are common comes from religious
rituals other observations that were carried out by indigenous peoples

(30:45):
in more recent centuries. That is definitely not the case
for every human made object found near Macedon bones. Though
in a twenty twenty three installment of Unearthed, we talked
about a projectile point that had been made from Macedon
bone embedded in another Masdon bone, and that discovery was

(31:05):
described as the oldest direct evidence of humans hunting Masdons.
That just wasn't the case with these specific objects that
Kok was using to support his idea.

Speaker 1 (31:17):
Though. Although Cok did have some partial support for his ideas,
a lot of the response was scathing. Doctor P. R. Hoy,
writing in The American Naturalist in eighteen seventy one, called
Cock's account quote unreliable in every particular saving locality. Hoy
went on to say, quote the doctor certainly exercised a

(31:38):
lively imagination when he stated that the bones were found
in a layer of vegetable mold which was covered by
twenty feet in thickness of alternate layers of sand, clay,
and gravel, and that under this extensive stratification he found
the identical flint arrowhead that the mound builders used in
slaying this giant of past ages. Taking advantage of his

(31:59):
helplessness being mired hopelessly that ends with three consecutive exclamation points.
Hoi went on to write, quote, I am pained to
record this evidence of doctor Cox's want of accuracy in
this matter, but the cause of science seems to demand
the truth. Doctor Cox's report has been quoted in proof

(32:22):
of the antiquity of man. The position and state of
the bones rather go to show that the Macedon lived
in an age not so remote as usually supposed. I
should not be surprised if the evidence were speedily found
to prove that man was contemporaneous with the Macedon, but
certainly the missourium affords none. By the time Hoy's article

(32:44):
was published, Cock had died. After his trips back and
forth between the US and Europe, he returned to the
US for good, this time bringing his family with him.
They lived in Saint Louis for a while before moving
to Gauconda, Illinois, where his brother Lewis lived. Albert Kock
died on December eighteenth, eighteen sixty seven, which means the

(33:04):
King of Prussia wound up paying about twenty thousand Reichs
dollars for his prehistoric whalebones. If there was also a
one thousand dollars annual payment from the British Museum. Then
that one totaled about twenty two thousand dollars. The inscription
on Cox's tombstone, written in Latin read quote, he dug
up hidden hydras, a titan, and a bore, immense things

(33:28):
buried in the earth, which now survive as monuments. About
a decade before his death, Kock acknowledged that his Missouri
Lefiathan had been made from the bones of an American mastodon.
Another amateur paleontologist, C. W. Beeler, did further excavations at
the Kimswick site where Cock had excavated some of his

(33:48):
masted on bones. Bhler exhibited these bones as well, including
during the nineteen oh four World's Fair in Saint Louis.
An organization formed to try to protect these bone beds
during the construction of Interstate fifty five, and eventually the
Missouri Department of Natural Resources bought four hundred and eighteen
acres of land in the area and added that to

(34:10):
the state park system. Today, this area is massedon State
Historic Site and the bone bed was placed on the
National Register of Historic Places on April fourteenth, nineteen eighty seven.
Some of the other sites that Cock excavated are no
longer accessible. They were flooded following the construction of a dam,

(34:32):
So overall, Cock seems like kind of a mixed bag.
His Missouri Leviathan and Hydrarchis skeletons definitely did not represent
the real skeletons of real animals that really existed in
the ancient past. But it's clear he had a genuine
fascination for fossils. Some of his journeys to excavate bones
were arduous and difficult, and at least once he set

(34:54):
out while sick with agu because he was afraid of
missing out on the bones if he didn't. But it's
not as clear whether he was trying to deceive people
with the skeletons he made from the fossils he loved
so much, or if he kind of just didn't know
what he was doing and was maybe bubbling. But he
did contribute to the preservation of these and other specimens,
although possibly also to the loss or scattering of William

(35:17):
Clark's collection of items that had belonged to indigenous people.
Of Cox's three most famous massive skeletons, so the Missouri Leviathan,
the Hydraucos and the Great Zuglidan. Only the Leviathan survives, although,
as we said earlier, disassembled and rearticulated as the mastodon
that it was. The Zuglidon was destroyed during the Great

(35:40):
Chicago Fire in eighteen seventy one, and most of the
bones from the Hydracos were destroyed during World War Two.
If there's an afterlife, I'm fascinated by the thought of
what he thinks of how people perceive him today. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (35:57):
When I put this on the list, I was like,
this was such a big hoax, And then I was like,
I'm actually not fully convinced that it was a hoax,
because there's also the possibility that you just didn't know
what you were doing. Yeah, I have listener Maile from
Kirsten Fabulous. Kirsten wrote about our recent Saturday classic about

(36:19):
Spam and said, Hello, I'm a longtime listener as I
sew at work and have lots of listening time. I
was catching up on back episodes and heard your episode
about Spam and the Horrmale Company. While I'm not an
avid eater, i am a former Drum Corps International participant
and have a historical tidbit I thought you'd enjoy as
well as.

Speaker 1 (36:39):
Their touring girl troops. Horrmale also had an all female
drum corps. They lasted for the better part of a decade,
wore panty hose to every rehearsal, and were reportedly a
fan favorite. I'm attaching an article about them, and Jay
Store has a couple articles about them as well. I
never thought Hormale and DCI would overlap, but throw in
some wonderful feminism and it sounds like a great recipe.

(37:01):
And there's a link to a block about these this
drum corps, including pet tax of my four dogs. I'm
part of a blended family, so i have two poodle mixes,
Annie and Charger, and my partner has the two Brittany mixes,
Sam and Louis. Thank you for your wonderful and educational
content that always helps me feel productive. And then we have,

(37:21):
oh my goodness, just four of the cutest, sweetest dog faces. Listen.
I said it recently before. I have poodle fever right now. Yeah,
so if you send me pictures of poodles, I'm gonna
screech over them. You're just gonna be the time for
time for a poodle to come home with me. Uh
so I meant to reply to Kirsten and say, Kirsten,

(37:44):
Carolina Crown nineteen ninety two, which which drum corps were
you in?

Speaker 2 (37:50):
I also technically Carolina Crown nineteen ninety three. I did
not actually make it into the performing season that year
for reasons reasons including having contracted minoonucleosis the year before,
I was not well enough to do it. I also
had personal reasons involved with just being a teenager. So

(38:14):
so thank you so much. I had no idea about
you know this all women's drum Corps. I started thinking
about whether did they ever feed us any spam while
we were on tour with the drum Corps. I don't
think they did, but I wouldn't have put it past them.
I might have balked at that as a teenager, I
would not balk at it today. Thank you so much

(38:35):
for this email and for just such the cutest, cutest
dog pictures. If you would like to send us some
notes about this or any other podcast or a history
podcasts at iHeartRadio dot com and we are on social
media as miss and History. That's where you'll find our Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,
and Instagram, and you can subscribe to our show on

(38:57):
the iHeartRadio app, or wherever else you'd like to get
your podcasts. Stuff you Missed in History Class is a
production of iHeartRadio. For more podcasts from iHeartRadio, visit the
iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your
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