mary wade 1928-2005
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Paleontologist, GeologistObituary in the Courier-Mail by Alex Cook
Born: Adelaide Feb 1, 1928
Died: Charters Towers Sept. 13, 2005
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 Museum.
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 Bay NSW.
Footnote from Earth Science Australia
Mary Wade provided expert asssitance 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.
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