Monday, 10 September 2012

Stan Wood

Stan Wood died yesterday. He was an amazing man and a hero of palaeontology. He wasn't a fossil collector, he was a fossil hunter. His finds over the years have changed the way we understand the colonisation of land, the development of four-legged creatures, the very evolution of life. It's no surprise to anyone who knows him that the new material he has amassed over the past few years should turn out to be his most important yet. His dogged persistence and innate feel for the rocks led him to discovery after discovery where many had given up before him. His loss is a loss to science, and will be felt deeply.

I knew him first by reputation, then for a long time as my boss. It was always interesting working for Stan. I think it's fair to say he was an idiosyncratic man. Field work was hard, physical work and he led by example. It usually involved wading in waist deep water and crushingly heavy rucksacks. He was happy in the field, though, and it was a genuine pleasure to share that with him. Working in the shop, on the other hand, didn't appeal quite so much. He was a reluctant last resort mostly, and it was in everybody's interest to keep it that way. Often, he'd leave the door propped open and go wandering, returning to find bewildered would-be customers standing by the counter with fossil in hand. He did enjoy the conversations with interested customers, though, and there were always plenty of those.

Lastly, though, I was lucky enough to be able to consider him a friend. He did a great deal for me and I'll never forget that. I'll miss him terribly. Goodbye, Stan.

1 comment:

Matt Dale said...

Stan was my uncle. He was a great person to know. He was in my family and I got a special gift witch is very cool, it was a shark's tooth.

From Sam Elliot