The themes Charles Hazelius Sternberg wrote about
Sternberg's older brother, Dr. George M. Sternberg (1838–1915) was a military surgeon assigned to Fort Harker near Ellsworth, Kansas, and brought the rest of the Sternberg family to Kansas to live on his ranch about 1868. Once there, Charles became interested in collecting fossil leaves from the Dakota Sandstone Formation. In the 1870s, he studied at Kansas State under the noted paleontologist Benjamin Franklin Mudge, but he soon left school in order to spend more time in the field.
During the early years of the Bone Wars, Charles Sternberg collected fossils in Kansas for Edward Drinker Cope. He wrote two books: The Life of a Fossil Hunter (1909) and Hunting Dinosaurs in the Badlands of the Red Deer River, Alberta, Canada (1917).
Charles married Anna Musgrave Reynolds on 7 July 1890. One son died in toddlerhood, and their only daughter died at age 20 in 1911. Three sons survived into adulthood, George F. Sternberg (1883–1969), Charles Mortram Sternberg (1885–1981) and Levi Sternberg (1894–1976), who also had careers in vertebrate paleontology. They became famous for their collecting abilities and many discoveries, including the "Trachodon mummy", an exquisitely preserved specimen of Edmontosaurus annectens (see hadrosaurid). Son George was also a noted fossil hunter famous for finding the iconic "fish within a fish" — a 13-foot (4.0 m) Xiphactinus which had inside it a nicely preserved, 6-foot (1.8 m) Gillicus arcuatus.
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