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Cincinnati Geologist Earns International Award
Amateur Fossil Hunter Honored For Helping Pros

Date: Nov. 3, 2001
Story and photos by: Chris Curran
Phone: (513) 556-1806
Archive: Research News

Cincinnati - The University of Cincinnati-based Dry Dredgers fossil club will be honored for the second time by the Paleontological Society, one of the world's leading scientific societies devoted to the study of fossils. Stephen Felton, a contractor from Bridgetown who joined the group in 1971, will receive the 2001 Strimple Award for outstanding contributions to scientific knowledge by an amateur.

Stephen Felton

UC geology professor David Meyer nominated Felton for the award, based on Felton's long-standing devotion to paleontology and to UC students and faculty who study the local area's Ordovician fossils. "He has helped almost every grad student here who has worked on local fossils," said Meyer. "He willingly shares his knowledge. He also has collaborated with various geologists on research publications at the professional level."

Meyer said he believes the Dry Dredgers are the only amateur group to be honored twice by the Paleontological Society. "It's amazing. Strimple winners come from all over the world."

Meyer said Felton's contributions span the spectrum from donating fossils he's found to supporting research and making his own individual contributions to the base of scientific knowledge.

Stephen Felton and Carlton Brett

Felton's specialty is a snail called Cyclonema which could drill into the shells of brachiopods for food. He said it only made sense that he would end up studying ancient marine organisms after moving to Cincinnati to get married in 1955. Felton grew up combing the seashores along the Maine coast. "I was always in a marine environment, so when I came here, I thought, 'That's the ocean again.'"

Cincinnati's Ordovician fossils were deposited when the area was covered by shallow seas 440 million years ago. But today, there are still parallels with modern oceans. Felton has studied the horseshoe crab to see how its burrowing behavior might provide clues to how ancient marine organisms such as trilobites lived on the sea floors. Felton will receive his award Tuesday, Nov. 6 during the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA) in Boston. The Paleontological Society holds its annual meeting in conjunction with GSA.

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