In 1841 Mosander, having in 1839 discovered a new element lanthanum in the mineral cerite, isolated this element and also a hitherto unrecognized substance, didymia, from crude yttria, and two years later he announced the determination of two fresh constituents of the same earth, naming them erbia and terbia.
Mosander's erbia has been shown to contain various other oxides - thulia, holmia, &c. - but this has not yet been perfectly worked out.
In 1878 Marignac, having subjected Mosander's erbia, obtained from gadolinite, to a careful examination, announced the presence of a new element, ytterbium; this discovery was confirmed by Nilson, who in the following year discovered another element, scandium, in Marignac's ytterbia.
Cleve, Lecoq de Boisbaudran and others into erbia, holmia, thulia and dysprosia, but it is still doubtful whether any one of these four splitting products is a single substance.
Throughout his life he paid great attention to the "rare earths" and the problem of separating and distinguishing them; in 1878 he extracted ytterbia from what was supposed to be pure erbia, and two years later found gadolinia and samaria in the samarskite earths.