Nicholls, Elizabeth L. | "The Oldest Known North American Occurence of the Plesiosauria

  • The rare offprint of the first published paper by palaeontologist Elizaabeth L. Nicholls (1946-2004).

    Plesiosaurs were long-necked, marine reptiles that evolved during the Triassic period. They survived the mass extinction that led to the Jurassic, and flourished alongside the dinosaurs during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. The partially articulated plesiosaur skeleton described in this paper was discovered in 1970, in the foothills of southwestern Alberta. Collected by a team from the University of Calgary in 1974, it was notable for being the earliest specimen yet recorded in North America, where plesiosaur fossils are more commonly found in later sediments of the Cretaceous. This paper describes the preparation of the fossil up to October, 1975, describing the specimen as appearing to be complete except for the skull, though further work was needed to confirm this.

    This paper was published while its author, Elizabeth Nicholls, was a graduate student in palaeontology at the University of Calgary, where she would complete her PhD in 1989. Nicholls became an expert on marine reptiles, working at the Royal Tyrell Museum in Alberta and co-editing the book Ancient Marine Reptiles, published in 1997. She is best known for excavating, from a remote region of Canada, the largest marine reptile ever discovered, a 220-million-year-old ichthyosaur which she named Shonisaurus sikanniensis. Nichollas received a Rolex Award for Enterprise for the excavation in 2000, and in 2017 the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre established the Dr. Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Nicholls Award for Excellence in Palaeontology. She was also honoured by having a genus of extinct sea turtle, Nichollsemy, and a mosasaur, Latoplatecarpus nichollsae, named after her. 

  • ...(Reptilia: Sauropterygia) from the Liassic (Lower Jurassic) Fernie Group, Alberta, Canada." [Offprint from] Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, Volume 13, Number 1, pages 185-188. [Ottawa]: National Research Council, Canada, 1976.

    4-page offprint. Wire-stitched, original blue wrappers printed in black. Illustrations from black and white photographs within the text. Shelf numbers in black ink to the upper wrapper. Corner of the upper wrapper creased, mild horizontal crease affecting wrappers and contents. Very good condition.