A bitter feud between Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh in the late 19th century truly built paleontology into the field it was today. It’s not clear what the starting point for their bitter rivalry was, but it only grew in intensity over the years.
The two men were notorious for stealing fossils from each other’s dig sites by bribing workers, as well as destroying bones and writing scathing criticisms on each others published work in newspapers in an attempt to discredit one another. These actions, among others, led to both suffering blows to their finances as well as their reputation in the field.
Their obsessive battle for supremacy, however, led to the discovery of rich bone beds in the western United States. It also resulted in an increased interest in prehistoric life (both in the public forum and academia), leading to an increase in fossil hunting in the decades to come.