Portrait of Thomas Jefferson, polymath, American Founding Father and President (b. 13 April 1743 - d. 4 July 1826). Engraving by W.Holl in 'The Gallery of Portraits' 1837 with later colouring, after print by Desnoyers and painting by Peale 1800. His chief contribution to science came in paleontology, describing the American Mastodon and in 1797 the first fossil of the giant ground sloth Megalonyx jeffersonii from West Virginia. Megalonyx means 'giant claw' (see Leidy 1855). Cuvier credited the discovery and illustrated it in his 1812 'Ossamens fossiles'. Buffon had been dismissive of the American fauna as feeble and Jefferson was happy to counter the claim with fossils such as these. Jefferson also contributed to the sciences as an inventor and archaeologist. He founded the University of Virginia.