I analyze the epistemic strategies used by paleontologists between the early 19th and early 20th centuries to reconstruct features of ancient organisms from fossilized bodies and footprints by presenting two heuristics: (1) a “claim of harmony” which posits the harmonious interaction of natural objects in order for complex systems to be simplified and (2) the “kintsugi heuristic” which is used inter-theoretically to explore new claims of harmony. I apply these to three successive historical cases: Georges Cuvier’s laws of correlation, the panpsychist paleontology of Edward Drinker Cope, and the single-character approach of Henry Fairfield Osborn.

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