Paleontology (the study of animal and plant fossils) emerged out of the 19th century thanks to a man by the name of Georges Cuvier, a french naturalist, zoologist, and the first ever paleontologist, which is a term coined from a french magazine back in 1822. The 1800s became known as "The age of reptiles" because the fossils that Cuvier found gave credence to the thought that reptles one ruled the earth before mammals did. These fossils were some of the first ever dinosaur fossils ever discovered. The dinasaurs discovered included the ichthyosaur in 1811 and the plesiosaur discovered in 1821.
Darwin and His Effects
Charles Darwin is best known for his book On the Origin of Species published in 1858, which is a foundational book for the theory of evolution. Darwin's works are founded in paleontolgy, specifically fossils that Darwin had collected and studied during his time in South America, including those of giant sloths and giant armadillos. The publication of his book also spurred paleontolgy further because scientists and archaeologists began to focus on finding what are known as "transistional fossils", or fossils that show evidence of evolution of one species to another. The first transitional fossil discovered was of the Archaeopteryx, pictured to the right by Richard Owen in 1881.
The images in this gallery below are all diffferent illustrations or diagrams of old fossils collected from the 1800s. If you click on each one, you can see how much detail was put into each drawing, which was necessary at the time since photography did not exist until the very late 1800s.
The collection of books to the left are what I found from the Baldwin collection that contained numurous fossil illustrations and/or descriptions of fossils from before the 1900s. These books were among the first to bring fossils and beginner-level paleontology learning to children.