‘A Splendid Position’: The life, achievements and contradictions of Sir Arthur Smith Woodward 1864–1944
Karolyn Shindler, Mike Smith, 2016. "‘A Splendid Position’: The life, achievements and contradictions of Sir Arthur Smith Woodward 1864–1944", Arthur Smith Woodward: His Life and Influence on Modern Vertebrate Palaeontology, Z. Johanson, P. M. Barrett, M. Richter, M. Smith
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Arthur Smith Woodward commanded international respect and acclaim. He was honoured in scientific circles from Russia to the Americas and throughout Europe, particularly for his outstanding work on fossil fish. He was distinguished in both his exceptional abilities as a vertebrate palaeontologist and in his tall, authoritative presence. He appeared confident, contained and in control, while his intellectual gifts had been apparent from a very early age. He was a remarkable scientist, but a man whose reputation has for too long been seen through the prism of the Piltdown forgery.
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Arthur Smith Woodward was the Natural History Museum’s longest-serving Keeper of Geology and the world’s leading expert on fossil fish. He was also an unwitting victim of the Piltdown fraud, which overshadowed his important scientific contributions. The aim of this book is to honour Smith Woodward’s contributions to vertebrate palaeontology, discuss their relevance today and provide insights into the factors that made him such an eminent scientist. The last few years have seen a resurgence in fossil vertebrate (particularly fish) palaeontology, including new techniques for the ‘virtual’ study of fossils (synchrotron and micro CT-scanning) and new research foci, such as ‘Evo-Devo’ – combining fossils with the development of living animals. This new research is built on a strong foundation, like that provided by Smith Woodward’s work. This collection of papers, authored by some of the leading experts in their fields, covers the many facets of Smith Woodward’s life, legacy and career. It will be a benchmark for studies on one of the leading vertebrate palaeontologists of his generation.