Richard Smith Receives Morris Skinner Prize

Richard Smith receives the prize
10/12/2014
Richard Smith Receives Morris Skinner Prize
post by
Reinout Verbeke

Richard Smith, scientific collaborator at our Institute, has won the Morris Skinner Prize for his contribution to vertebrate palaeontology. Smith is honoured especially for the Dormaal collection of fossil vertebrates from the early Eocene. 

He received the award at the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Berlin. Richard Smith, a retired schoolteacher, has collected fossils since he was 12 years old. In 1965, at the age of 18, he started as a voluntary collaborator at our Institute and worked with vertebrate paleontologist Edgar Casier to collect Eocene shark teeth. From that time to 2011 Richard collected more than 100,000 vertebrate specimens ranging from fish otoliths to bison skulls.

From 1983 to the present he has published 46 peer-reviewed papers on his discoveries in collaboration with numerous vertebrate specialists from Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Czech Republic, UK and USA.

Europe's earliest modern mammals 

Richard has donated a great number of his specimens to our Institute to help young researchers with their PhD work. In 1989 he rediscovered the famous Belgian locality of Dormaal, which has yielded the earliest modern mammals from Europe.

Richard screen-washed 24 tons of matrix from Dormaal, which he sorted over 7 years to produce one of the most complete mammal faunal samples known from the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum. In 2014 one of his favorite discoveries, the small carnivoran Dormaalocyon latouri, was honored by appearing on the cover page of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

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