Just when the fuss over Darwin's "Origin of Species" was getting really heated, an extraordinary fossil was found in Germany. Apparently, half bird, half reptile, it was christened Archaeopteryx and hailed as the "missing link" which proved that species could change as Darwin had claimed. The reaction was furious and immediate and has remained so to the present day. Since its discovery the Archaeopteryx has caused more trouble than any other scientific icon. It has been used not just to support dozens of differing views on evolution but to start feuds, destroy reputations, further personal ambition and promote nationalism. "Bones of Contention" tells a story not just about a fossil but about the lengths to which people will go to prove themselves right. Sometimes the consequences are funny, often they are disastrous or tragic, but they are never dull. This is the first book to look not only at the life and times of Archaeopteryx but also at the chaotic scientific world into which it emerged. From Victorian bravado to modern-day media, the meaning and relevance of this humble fossil have changed continually with the times, holiding up a mirror to ideals of science, and attitudes to natural history and the material world. It offers a rare insight into the way scientists can really behave in public and behind closed doors.