STL Science Center

STL Science Center

27 June 2014

Discovering Like the Polish

1966 and young!
During the 1960's it appears that it was all the rage in Poland for female paleontologists to cart off expeditionary teams to Mongolia, specifically the Gobi desert. A couple of names are well known in association with these expeditions, including Teresa Maryanska and Halszka Osmolska. One name not typically at the forefront of the list is Zofia Kielan Jaworowska. Kielan-Jaworowska received a Master's degree in zoology and a PhD in paleontology from Warsaw University. In addition to her academic prowess she led multiple (7 of the 8 financed by the Institute of Paleobiology of the Polish Academy of Sciences) expeditions to Mongolia helping to discover a large number of fossil animals from crocodiles and birds to multituberculates (rodent-like mammals). In 1960 the director of the Institute, Roman Kozlowski, retired and Kielan-Jaworowska took over the directorship from 1961 until 1982. Despite all of the responsibilities and important positions she held, Kielan-Jaworowska's favored area of study is Devonian and Ordovician trilobites; this area of study has not led to as many high profile media circuses as some fossils, hence why her name is rather foreign to the majority of folks. Even more interesting about her favorite study subject is that she worked mainly on Central European populations, even while leading expeditions in Mongolia!

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