Dr Tim Smithson, Postdoctoral Research Associate with Prof Jenny Clack, writes of a fossil from the museum’s collections:
The specimen was found by my dear friend the late Stanley Wood in a dry stone wall surrounding a field in the Bathgate Hills, Central Scotland, in 1985. It was one of a number of important fossil amphibians Stan collected from this unusual location before he eventually tracked down the original source of the walling stones, East Kirkton Quarry. Unlike its companion, West Kirkton Quarry, East Kirkton Quarry had fortunately not been filled in and for the next five years Stan collected at the quarry. During this time he discovered a diverse fauna of Early Carboniferous terrestrial tetrapods, with Balanerpeton the most common. I spent two months with him collecting at the quarry in the summer of 1985. I remember it well – it rained every day! Stan wrote a short note announcing his discoveries and submitted it to Nature. It was rejected – of insufficient general interest! He protested, Nature relented, and it was published with a picture of Balanerpeton on the front cover. In the display case alongside the specimen is a photo collage of it prepared by Stan in the style of David Hockney. Stan was a keen artist and photographer and this specimen inspired him to produce a work of art that to me greatly adds to the interest of the fossil. Together, they provide an insight into a great fossil collector and examples of his many discoveries can be seen in display cases throughout the Museum.