Wednesday, 12 September 2012


Stan Wood: he will be sorely missed
Three days ago, the palaeontologist Stan Wood died. He was a legend in all circles of palaeontology, and he worked tirelessly. Countless trips to formations all around Scotland resulted in some of the finest and most valuable fossils which exist today. Without his work, we would know very little abut the origins of tetrapods on the planet. Such achievements at the very least deserve a tribute.

My reasons for this post are a little more personal. When I was just four years old, I was in Edinburgh with my parents who were putting on a production at the annual Fringe festival. I already had an interest in fossils and dinosaurs, but no more so than any other small child who had discovered that giant, carnivorous reptiles once roamed the planet. It was a trip to a fossil shop founded by Stan Wood, close to Edinburgh castle, which changed this.

My very first purchase was a fragment of dinosaur eggshell and it was this single fossil which cemented my love of prehistory and became the foundation for my collection. According to the shop's main proprietor Matt Dale, Stan Wood was 'not partial to manning the store,' and so, while I never actually met the great man himself (a crying shame), I will always be grateful.

Since then, each and every visit to that shop has been something akin to a pilgrimage. Even though he is no longer with us, he will remain an inspiration to me. His dedication and hard work in the field recovered many specimens which underpin the whole of palaeontology and one day I hope that I might make such a discovery as well. To quote Matt Dale, 'he wasn't a fossil collector, he was a fossil hunter.'