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18 Sep 1998

Grappling With Graptolites

Sunday is the 156th anniversary of the birth of Charles Lapworth, an English geologist famous for his work with marine fossils called graptolites. By fastidiously collecting the tiny, colonial sea creatures, Lapworth figured out the original order of layered rocks that had been faulted and folded in England's Southern Uplands. This method of correlating rocks with graptolites became a model for similar research throughout the world. In 1879, Lapworth proposed a new classification of Lower Paleozoic rocks. By introducing the Ordovician, between the redefined Cambrian and Silurian periods, Lapworth convincingly settled a heated dispute.

[Source: Trevor I. Williams, Ed. A Biographical Dictionary of Scientists, Third Edition. John Wiley & Sons. New York. 1982.]

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© 1997 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.