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Abstract

Although primarily a pre-eminent palaeoichthyologist, Arthur Smith Woodward’s research and publications ranged across all major tetrapod groups: nevertheless, his contributions in this area have generally been overshadowed by involvement in the ‘Piltdown Man’ affair. Smith Woodward published on fossil amphibians, every major group of reptiles and on mammals. Most of the new taxa he named remain valid, a testament to his wide knowledge and understanding of fossil vertebrates beyond his principal speciality, although some of these have now been extensively revised. He travelled widely in Europe and the Americas, resulting in some of the earliest work on Gondwanan Cretaceous reptiles. Several of his taxa revealed the existence of previously unknown groups (e.g. notosuchian crocodiles) or provided important character data that have fuelled various phylogenetic debates (e.g. snake and tyrannosauroid origins). His influence extended beyond his own scientific efforts to incorporate his role as a senior administrator, supporting the acquisition of significant reptile specimens for the collection, and as an educator, producing articles for museum visitors and the general public.

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