The life and work of Emily Dix (1904–1972)
Emily Dix was a leading British palaeobotanist during the first half of the 20th century to deal with the stratigraphical distribution of macrofloras. She helped transform the use of fossil plants in defining biostratigraphic units in the Carboniferous strata in Britain; her plant-based zonation remains the foundation of Carboniferous macrofloral biostratigraphy today. She addressed several problems that came to dominate Carboniferous stratigraphical research during the second half of the century, including the mid-Carboniferous boundary and the Westphalian-Stephanian boundary. Her career was tragically cut short by mental illness when she was only in her early 40s.
Figures & Tables
Often regarded as the ‘Cinderella’ of palaeontological studies, palaeobotany has a history that contains some fascinating insights into scientific endeavour, especially by palaeontologists who were perusing a personal interest rather than a career. The problems of maintaining research facilities in universities, especially in the modern era, are described and reveal a noticeable absence of a national UK strategy to preserve centres of excellence in an avowedly specialist area. Accounts of some of the pioneers demonstrate the importance of collaboration between taxonomists and illustrators. The importance of palaeobotany in the rise of geoconservation is outlined, as well as the significant and influential role of women in the discipline. Although this volume has a predominantly UK focus, two very interesting studies outline the history of palaeobotanical work in Argentina and China.