Of the two, Cope's scientific legacy was much the more substantial. In a breathtakingly industrious career, he wrote some 1,400 learned papers and described almost 1,300 new species of fossil (of all types, not just dinosaurs)—more than double Marsh's output in both cases.
Cope might have done even more, but unfortunately he went into a rather precipitate descent in his later years. Having inherited a fortune in 1875, he invested unwisely in silver and lost everything. He ended up living in a single room in a Philadelphia boarding house, surrounded by books, papers, and bones. Marsh by contrast finished his days in a splendid mansion in New Haven. Cope died in 1897, Marsh two years later.
In his final years, Cope developed one other interesting obsession. It became his earnest wish to be declared the type specimen forHomo sapiens—that is, that his bones would be the official set for the human race. Normally, the type specimen of a species is the first set of bones found, but since no first set of Homo sapiens bones exists, there was a vacancy, which Cope desired to fill. It was an odd and vain wish, but no one could think of any grounds to oppose it.
To that end, Cope willed his bones to the Wistar Institute, a learned society in Philadelphia endowed by the descendants of the seemingly inescapable Caspar Wistar. Unfortunately, after his bones were prepared and assembled, it was found that they showed signs of incipient syphilis, hardly a feature one would wish to preserve in the type specimen for one's own race. So Cope's petition and his bones were quietly shelved. There is still no type specimen for modern humans.