Sir James Grant, a medical doctor and amateur geologist, collected this fossil near Sussex Street in Ottawa, probably in the late 1870s. It is a fine example of Lebetodiscus (Agelacrinites) dicksoni, a marine animal, which Elkanah Billings, the Geological Survey of Canada’s first paleontologist, had described and named in 1858.
Its name was a tribute to Andrew Dickson, who according to Billings was “one of the best workers in the field of Canadian Geology.” Dickson had donated outstanding specimens to the Survey, some of which were used in the acclaimed Canadian exhibit organized by William Logan for the 1851 international exhibition in London.
This fossil reflects the period when amateur scientists made valuable contributions to the fledgling Survey. Some, like Billings, who was trained as a lawyer, were hired as full-time staff, and others like Dickson were publicly honoured for their assistance.
In 1921, American paleontologist Percy Raymond re-described this fossil in the Survey’s GSC Museum Bulletin 31. One cannot help wonder whether it was the inspiration for the Canadian Museum of Nature’s logo. This would have a fine resonance, as that museum was originally part of the Survey’s museum.
Category: Rocks, Fossils, Minerals and Meteorites
Sir James Alexander Grant, M.D. http://www.electricscotland.com/history/descendants/chap61.htm http://www.cbmh.ca/index.php/cbmh/article/viewFile/109/108
Billings, E., 1858, On the Asteridae of the Lower Silurian Rocks of Canada, Canadian Organic Remains, Decade III, p. 84. Catalogue of the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations 1851
Raymond, P.E. 1921, Geological Survey of Canada Museum Bulletin 31, p. 5
Grant, J., 1881, Transactions of the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club vol. 1, no. 2, fig. 9.