Paleonet: Art Boucot

David Kopaska-Merkel davidkm at
Wed Apr 12 13:36:23 UTC 2017

In the summer before my freshman year in college I worked as a volunteer at the Smithsonian. I worked partly with Don Dean in Richard Boardman's lab, but I and other volunteers spend a lot of time unwrapping little tiny chunks of rock with small brachiopods on them from several gigantic crates of the same, and putting them in very small chipboard trays. Guess who sent them: Art Boucot!

David C Kopaska-Merkel
Geological Survey of Alabama
Box 869999
Tuscaloosa AL 35486-6999
fax 205-349-2861
From: paleonet-bounces at [mailto:paleonet-bounces at] On Behalf Of Plotnick, Roy E
Sent: Wednesday, April 12, 2017 8:13 AM
To: paleonet at
Subject: Re: Paleonet: Art Boucot

I am currently writing a book about paleontology and paleontologists. In the chapter on field work, I wrote the following (updated this morning): of the most dedicated field-oriented invertebrate paleontologists, the late Arthur Boucot.  Art was a large guy known for collecting pretty much everything available at an outcrop; his propensity to do has given rise to the phrase "to Boucotize" an outcrop (Talent 1996). I have also heard that having one-hundred pounds of rocks on your back is "a Boucot."  Art's love and encouragement for field work is memorialized by his funding of the Paleontological Society Arthur James Boucot Research Grants, which encourages field-work based research by young scientists.
To add: Art was an ardent proponent of field work and a strong skeptic of many aspects of the "paleobiological revolution." He published a number of exhaustively researched and influential books on paleoecology and the fossil record and on Silurian and Devonian stratigraphy.  He developed the concept of the Evolutionary-Ecological Unit (EEU).  He was also a former President of the Paleontological Society.  We have lost one of the most colorful and important members of our field.

Talent, J. A. 1996. Arthur J. ('art') Boucot: Palaeontologic virtuoso and guru. Historical Biology 11( ):3-7.

- Roy


Roy E. Plotnick


Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

University of Illinois at Chicago

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Chicago, IL 60607

E-mail: plotnick at<mailto:plotnick at>

office 2454 SES

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"The scientific celebrities, forgetting their molluscs and glacial periods, gossiped about art, while devoting themselves to oysters and ices with characteristic energy.." -Little Women, Louisa  May Alcott
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