Thursday, May 05, 2005

Happy Birthday To: Elkanah Billings

May 5, 1820 - June 14, 1896

From Today In Science History:

Billings was a Canadian geologist and paleontologist, who was the first Canadian paleontologist. For three years as the editor of the Ottawa Citizen, he wrote a series of articles on science, including geology and paleontology. He published his first scientific paper on Trenton fossils in 1854. He launched a new monthly periodical, The Canadian Naturalist and Geologist in 1856, which he also edited and was the major contributor. In Aug 1856 he was appointed staff paleontologist with the Canadian Geological Survey by William Edmond Logan, the founder of the Survey. Billings immediately began the task of identifying a 20-year backlog of fossils collected by the Survey. By 1863 he had published descriptions of no fewer than 526 new species of fossils.

The Billings medal, named in his honour, is awarded annually by the
Paleontology Division of the Geological Association of Canada as a means of recognizing the most outstanding of its paleontologists, those, who through unique and/or sustained contributions, have brought recognition to the science of paleontology in this country.

However, the working habits of some palaeontologists don't always mesh with those of their bosses, to wit:

On April 27, 1869, the Director of the GSC, Sir William Logan wrote this curt note to the paleontologist Elkanah Billings: "Your constant absence from the office is a worrying annoyance, particularly as I have reason to suspect that it does not arrive from rheumatism".
Growing up in Ottawa the Billings Estate was close to my home. During my undergraduate days I would walk by the estate everyday on my way to school.

For more info on Billings click HERE.

Click HERE for more information on the Geological Association of Canada.

Portrait of Elkanah Billings GSC photo 69323 (c)