Paleonet: Fwd: [Science News] The Natural News for January 4, 2017

Jere LIPPS jlipps at
Thu Jan 5 20:26:15 GMT 2017

Thank you, Roy for the sad news about Matthew.  He certainly lived an
interesting and, at times I imagine, discouraging, life.  Although he and I
had a number of conversations and communications, I did not see him often
enough to understand much of what you wrote.  I appreciate that write-up,
as I always found his work interesting and useful--it still is, as you
point out.  And he was a fun guy, as I could tell from a few encounters
with him.    I am sorry to see him go, but what a life!!


*Jere H. Lipps*
*jlipps at <jlipps at>*

On Thu, Jan 5, 2017 at 11:20 AM, Hasiotis, Stephen Tom <hasiotis at>

> Sad news indeed. Thank you for sharing this with us, Roy. I was just
> flipping through *Evolution of Animal Behavior* that he coedited with
> Kitchell in 1986. What a great resource.
> May his memory be eternal +
> Steve
> ***************************************
> Stephen T. Hasiotis, Ph.D.
> Professor of Geology
> The University of Kansas Department of Geology
> 1475 Jayhawk Blvd., rm. 120
> Lindley Hall
> Lawrence, KS 66045-7594
> Office: 785-864-4941 <(785)%20864-4941>
> Fax:     785-864-5276 <(785)%20864-5276>
> hasiotis at
> KU Ichnology: * <>*
> ****************************************
> *From: *Paleonet <paleonet-bounces at> on behalf of "Plotnick, Roy
> E" <plotnick at>
> *Organization: *University of Illinois at Chicago
> *Reply-To: *PaleoNet <paleonet at>
> *Date: *Thursday, January 5, 2017 at 1:06 PM
> *To: *PaleoNet <paleonet at>
> *Subject: *Paleonet: Fwd: [Science News] The Natural News for January 4,
> 2017
> ​From the Field Museum:
> * Matthew Nitecki, 1925 – 2016*
> We are sad to announce that Matt Nitecki, Curator Emeritus of Invertebrate
> Paleontology at The Field Museum, died on December 21, 2016, after a long
> illness. Matt came to the Museum in 1965 after having served as curator of
> the Walker Museum at the University of Chicago. When the Walker closed,
> Matt oversaw the transfer of its 720,000 specimens of fossil invertebrates
> to the Field, and came along with them as Curator.
> Matthew H. Nitecki was born in Poland in 1925, and left with his mother
> and brothers in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. After living in Romania
> and France, he attempted to join the Polish Army via England, but was
> jailed in Spain for illegally crossing the border while trying to get to
> Gibraltar. Eventually released to the Red Cross under a general amnesty of
> political prisoners under the age of 18, he made it to England, became a
> paratrooper in the Polish Army, and survived the Battle of Arnhem, well
> known from the book and movie *A Bridge Too Far*. Matt lived in England
> for several years after the war, going to school, including one year at the
> Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in Edinburgh, and then emigrated
> to the United States with his parents and twin brother. While working in
> Detroit, he saw a poster advertising the University of Chicago, and decided
> to enroll. He earned his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Chicago a few
> years later.
> Matt was a prolific scientist, authoring more than 150 articles and
> writing or editing 25 books and monographs, including what for years was
> the standard reference on Mazon Creek fossils. His special interests were
> “problematic” fossils and the history of evolution, and he was considered
> the world expert on Receptaculitids (enigmatic Paleozoic marine fossils of
> indeterminate and contested phylogenetic placement, but currently
> considered to be a group of algae). He taught geology field courses in
> places like Starved Rock State Park, Galena and Apple Rock Canyon in
> Illinois, the Missouri Ozarks, and the Grand Canyon. He also ran the
> Museum’s Spring Systematics Symposium for many years (of which more later).
> Like most curators, Matt kept working after he “retired” in 1996,
> continuing his research on algae and problematic fossils. His book, *Receptaculitids:
> A Phylogenetic Debate on a Problematic Fossil Taxon*, was published in
> 1999, and other book chapters and articles followed into the early 2000s.
> His most recent project was a bibliography of 19th century paleontologist
> James Hall, co-edited with his wife (and Field Museum Research Associate)
> Doris Nitecki and colleague Alan Horowitz; it was submitted for publication
> a few days after his death.
> It is almost inescapable to consider some scientists “characters,”
> especially those with a few decades of fieldwork and academic battles under
> their belts. But someone who fled Nazism, did time in a Spanish prison,
> parachuted into the Battle of Arnhem, and became an expert on enigmatic
> fossils, must be considered a character of a different order. Matt will be
> remembered as an accomplished scientist, a gracious host at his and Doris’
> home in the Indiana Dunes, and as a pint-sized, raspy-voiced, mischievous
> imp—but for many, Matt will always be first and foremost the mastermind of
> the renowned Spring Systematics Symposia in the 1980s—still remembered by
> old-timers at the University of Chicago as “the Nitecki talks.” Most of
> these symposia resulted in edited volumes, many of which are still in
> print. But more than that, many of these events packed the Museum’s James
> Simpson Theater with people eager to learn about the latest research or
> scientific controversy from experts recruited from around the world. It was
> a different time—no internet, no social media, cable TV just dawning—but
> these symposia were successful because of Matt’s foresight in choosing the
> right topics at the right time, and his passionate and energetic
> follow-through. Today institutions like ours continue to seek new ways to
> advance public understanding of science, while pushing the frontiers of
> knowledge and grappling with a broad range of global issues. Yet Matt was
> able to routinely get 500-plus people—a mix of academics and interested lay
> people—into the seats of a scientific symposium, year after year. Matt
> truly made the Museum a hub for the dissemination of scientific knowledge—a
> great accomplishment, and a huge contribution to The Field Museum, and to
> science more broadly.
> _______________________________________________
> Paleonet mailing list
> Paleonet at
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the Paleonet mailing list