Mantell, Dr Gideon Algernon, MRCS, FRS, FRA, FLS

Pioneer geologist and palaeontologist, born on 3 February 1790 at Lewes. His father's Methodist and radical views debarred him from the local grammar school and he was educated at his uncle's dissenting academy near Swindon. Returning home in 1805 he was apprenticed to James Moore, a Lewes surgeon, becoming his partner and later buying the practice. He gained a reputation as a skilled doctor, especially in midwifery and contributed a number of articles to the Lancet and other medical periodicals. More memorably, his geological and palaeontological investigations led to the discovery of teeth and other fossils that revealed evidence of such dinosaur species as the Iguanadon and Hylaeosaurus. He published a number of books on geology, including Medals of Creation (1844) which opposed the idea of evolution. He became a member of the Royal Society, receiving its gold medal, was awarded an honorary LLD by Yale in 1834 and in 1835 received the Wollaston medal from the Geological Society of London. His closing years were overshadowed by a painful spinal condition and estrangement from his family, and he died in London on 10 November 1852.

  • Sylvanus Urban Gent, in Gentleman's Magazine, 38 (1952), pp.644-47
  • Dennis Dean, Gideon Mantell and the Discovery of Dinosaurs (Cambridge, 1999)
  • Deborah Cadbury, The Dinosaur Hunters (2000)
  • Oxford DNB


Entry written by: DHR
Category: Person
Comment on this entry