Dr. Mary Wade spent much of her life hunting dinosaurs.
She had many important discoveries and fossil projects to her
creditan was a pioneer of Queensland's dinosaur tourism industry.
Mary Julia Wade was born in South Australia and soennt her early childhood
with her parents, Chris and Nora, and brother Bill on a grazing property
in the northeast of South Australia.
When she was seven the family moved to Thistle Island in the Spencer Gulf,
where she first developed an interest in geology. Initially, she was
educated by correspondance until she was sent, on a scholarship, to the
Wilderness School in Adelaide as a border. She studied for her Bachelor of
Science in geology at Adeliade University before undertaking postgraduate
studies. She undertook research into tertiary aged microfossils fro her
Ph.D under the guidance of Professor Martin Glaessner.
On completioni in 1958, she embarked on work on the earliest forms of
animal life, work which was to occupy her for the the next ten years.
During that time she made a major contribution to the knowledge of the
strange fossils of jellyfish and other problematic remaiuns, which had
been found in the Ediacara Hills in the Flinders Ranges.
But her progress at the University of Adelaide was resricted and in 1971
she moved to Brisbane as curator of geology at the Queensland
During the next few years, she explored areas of western Queensland ,
studying the fossil remains of early nautiloid molluscs. This led her to
describe a completely new group of fossil molluscs.
Rapidly developing an affinity for the Queensland Outback, she established
many local contacts and through teir assistancew collected new dinosaur
remains in the Winton district. In 1976 and 1977 she and Dr. Tony Thulborn
organised and supervised the excavaion of more than 3000 dinosaur
footprints in the Tully Range southwest of Winton.
This site , known as Lark Quarry - still the best-known set of dinosaur
footprints in the world - is now a major tourtist attraction and is on the
National Heritage list.
Late in the 1970's and 1980's Dr. Wade continued to recover remains of
dinosaurs, describing in detail the anatomy of these giant creatures
of the ancient inland sea of western Queensland.
In 1987, with the help of local people in the Hughenden area, she
recovered the second only skull of the Queensland iconic dinosaur
Muttaburasaurus. She also excavated specimens of the giant pliosaur
Kronosarurs, and relocated the site and collected the remains of
Australia's only Jurassic sauropod Rhoetosaurus, lost since the 1920's.
In 1990, she excavated , in the Hughenden area, the most complete pliosaur
known to date. She then turned to problematic mollusc fossils from the
inland sea deposits of the Great Artesian Basin, describing the remains of
giant squids that inhabited western Queensland 100 million years ago.
Dr. Wade retired from the museum in 1993 and moved to Western Queensland,
assisting in the development of fossil centres in Richmond and Hughenden.
She had many friends in the region, and continued to promote new finds of
fossil material through theses contacts.
In 1996, she was awarded the Queensland Museum medal in recognition of her
many and varied acheiviements.
Her scientific legacy is wide and varied and reflects an academic
rigour applied to a very wide group of fossils.
Her research had many broad and direct implications for the
development of Kronosaurus Korner in Richmond, Flinders Discovery Centre
in Hughenden and Lark Quarry and associated attractions in Winton.
the recent development of the Dinosaur Trail tourism initiative is based
on her pioneering endeavours. In addition, without her work the current
rush of dinosaur excavations would not be progressing.
Dr. Wade knew how to use her science for the broader community and
demonstrated that academic rigour applied to important pure science can
have long-lasting benefits for communities throughout the state.
She was not married. She is survived by her brother Bill, of Salamander
Footnote from Earth Science Australia
Mary Wade provided expert assitance to our Far North Queensland
Fossil Heritage Expeditions. In 1995-6 we discovered ichthyosaur remains
at a site in western Queensland. She provided advice regarding our
interpretation of the last days of Ichthyosaur 960901 and corrected errors
in our reconstruction of this Ichthyosaur. You can see it on
permanent display at Kronosaurs Korner a part of the Queensland Museum in
Richmond. Students from Mt. St. Bernard College in Herberton, mapped
and excavated the remains. They were transported to the school, preserved
and re-assembled in the Home Economics room over a period of three months
in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the school.