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Academy volunteer wins national paleontology award
Date:1/14/2008

PHILADELPHIA His friends used to think he was eccentric, crawling like Spiderman along a rocky sandstone road cut in north-central Pennsylvania, hauling dental tools and a jack hammer.

Now, says Norman Douglas Rowe of Renovo, theyve gotten over it, and are congratulating him on receiving the 2007 Harrell L. Strimple Award from The Paleontological Society, presented at the Geological Society of Americas recent annual meeting in Denver, Colo. The honor is the societys highest award given to a non-professional for his or her contribution to paleontology.

Rowe, 60, a Clinton County mechanical engineer and designer, was nominated for the award by The Academy of Natural Sciences Curator of Vertebrate Zoology Dr. Ted Daeschler. Daeschler, a world-renowned paleontologist, and Rowe have been working together for nearly 15 years to unravel the mysteries of life through (literally) hard evidence theyve extracted from a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation road cut called Red Hill, a few miles from Rowes home.

One day in 1993, Rowe, by then a long-time amateur paleontologist, spotted Daeschler hammering away at the exposed layers of Red Hills red sandstone in search of prehistoric fossils, and he stopped to chat. He was a quick study, and before long I had every confidence in Doug working at the site on his own, said Daeschler, recalling early field trips together. His patience, strength, eye for fossil material of all kinds, and his ability to understand the way the rock will fracture, make him an excellent collector.

Daeschler has been exploring the fascinating road cuts in the middle of Pennsylvania for nearly two decades. His work has revealed a wide range of unexpected fossil riches dating back to the Late Devonian Period, 370 to 365 million years ago, including some ancient fishes with fingerlike structures in the fins, as well as examples of some of the worlds earliest limbed vertebrates, called tetrapods.

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Contact: Carolyn Belardo
belardo@ansp.org
215-299-1043
The Academy of Natural Sciences
Source:Eurekalert  

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