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paleonet N. Gary Lane (1930-2006)

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This just in from Bill Ausich via Chris Maples (


N. Gary Lane (1930-2006)

Gary Lane was born in French Lick, Indiana on February 19, 1930 and early in
childhood moved to Sidell, Illinois where his father owned and operated the
local newspaper, which was largely an advertising paper serving the local
farming community. After primary and secondary education in Sidell, Gary
attended Oberlin University and received his Bachelor's degree in 1952. At
Oberlin, his paleontologic interests were kindled with two fellow students,
E.G. Driscoll and J.A. Fagerstom, also to become professors of paleontology.

Gary attended graduate school at the University of Kansas, where he studied
with the influential paleontologist Raymond C. Moore. His M.S. thesis (1954)
was a study of the Lower Permian Grenola Limestone in Kansas. Gary intended
to work on Triassic cyclical sedimentation for his doctoral studies, but Dr.
Moore had other plans, assigning Gary to his dissertation "The Monobathrid
Camerate Crinoid Family: Batocrinidae" (1958). From this dissertation work,
Gary developed a lifelong scientific interest in the study of crinoids, the
most diverse and abundant group of Paleozoic echinoderms. While at the
University of Kansas, Gary worked for the Kansas Geological Survey and the
Canadian Geological Survey, and he spent 1955-56 academic year at the
University of Tasmania as a Fulbright Scholar.

After graduation from the University of Kansas, Dr. Lane and his new bride,
Mary Rooney, went to Los Angeles, where Gary assumed a post at the
University of California at Los Angeles. Gary and Mary raised one son and
two daughters who have all gone on to successful careers. At UCLA, Gary
advanced to the rank of Professor of Paleontology; and in 1973, he accepted
a Professorship in the Department of Geology at Indiana University. He
retired in 1994 and was an active Emeritus Professor teaching in the honors
program and conducting research. During his career, Dr. Lane became the
leading international authority on the study of fossil crinoids and he was
an expert in paleontology, and the history of geology. He published two
books, more than 12 monographs and numerous scientific papers on crinoids.
He worked on crinoids from the Ordovician to Permian and from Illinois,
Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nevada Tennessee, Utah, Brazil,
Ireland, England, China, Tunisia, and elsewhere. His work was varied and
""abundant"". His most significant crinoid systematic works included those
on the prominent Mississippian family the Batocrinidae, Permian crinoids
from Nevada, work on microcrinoids that significantly advanced our knowledge
of these enigmatic forms, Devonian crinoids from England, and frontier work
on Devonian crinoids from China. Perhaps, less well recognized was his
pioneering work in paleoecology, in which he set forward some of the initial
ideas to understand the paleoecological structure of Paleozoic benthic
communities, completed some of the initial thorough community
paleoecological studies with his work on the Crawfordsville, Indiana,
LagerstŠtte. Further, his innovative thinking on various aspects of the
paleobiology of Paleozoic crinoids from feeding to predation to connective
soft-tissues resulted in several important manuscripts and inspired a
generation of crinoid workers to study the paleobiology and evolutionary
paleoecology of crinoids. Gary was also one of the primary contributing
authors to the 1978 Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, Crinoidea In
addition, Gary had historical research interests with published papers
spanning 50 years, on pioneering geologists and naturalists from New
Harmony, Indiana; crinoid folklore, and the history of crinoid studies.

Dr. Lane received numerous professional awards and honors, including a
Fulbright Fellowship to Tasmania, 1955-1956; a Fulbright Fellowship to
Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, 1971-1972; Co-Editorship of the Journal of
Paleontology, 1969-1971; 1979 SEPM Outstanding Paper Award in the Journal of
Paleontology; Associate Editor, Paleobiology, 1977-1979; President,
Paleontological Society, 1987-1988; 1979 Erasmus Haworth Distinguished
Alumni Award (University of Kansas); Chairman, Department of Geological
Sciences, Indiana University, 1984-1987; and the R.C. Moore Medal from SEPM,
Society for Sedimentary Geology, 1995. At the 2005 Annual Geological Society
of America in Salt Lake City, a research symposium was held to recognize the
career of Dr. Lane. At UCLA and Indiana University, Dr. Lane was an
outstanding and popular professor, receiving teaching awards and working
closely with numerous undergraduate and graduate students. He had an
infections love of learning, not just for crinoids but for geology,
wildflowers, natural history, and history. He inspired his colleagues,
graduate students, undergraduate students in both geology and in his natural
history courses taught through the Indiana University Living and Learning
Center. Gary was the consummate natural historican in the grandest sense.
Walking through the woods toward an outcrop or to collect mushrooms, those
accompanying Gary would get a natural history short course on flowers,
trees, and birds. In this world of specialists, Gary's broad, integrative
knowledge was a welcome perspective and an inspiration.

Gary Lane's enthusiasm for the study of fossil echinoderms, natural history
and life enriched others in many ways. Camping in the desert, trips to the
Chicago Field Museum, and the giant cooking wok in the deciduous forests of
Indiana bring back fond memories of learning and fellowship for many. One if
his legacies is the "Friends of Echinoderm Meeting" held at the Annual
Geological Society of America Meeting. This was the first ever "Friends"
meeting. Today at G.S.A. there are "Friends" of everything from the sponges
to the Pleistocene, but "Friends of Echinoderms" were first. Gary Lane died
in Bloomington, Indiana on January 14, 2006. His innovative research and
nurturing of young scientists leave a lasting legacy for the science of


Prof. Norman MacLeod
Keeper of Palaeontology
The Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD

(0)207 942-5204 (Office)
(0)207 942-5546 (Fax) (Web Page)


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