Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Passing of Frank C. Whitmore, Jr.

The preeminent mammalian paleontologist Frank C. Whitmore, Jr. passed away at the ripe old age of 96 within the past few days. Whitmore is well known to the marine mammal paleontology community for his long standing research interests in fossil cetaceans, and I find myself regularly reading, re-reading, and citing his work over and over again (and it will probably stay as such for the duration of my career). Unfortunately, I never got to meet him in person, but many other older "students" of fossil marine mammals have - check out the link below for Butch Dooley's remembrance of Frank, which includes some biographical details.

Two fossil cetaceans were named after him in his honor: the large squalodontid Squalodon whitmorei, and the early toothless mysticete Eomysticetus whitmorei.


Anonymous said...

Dear Robert,

Thank you so much for this tribute to my dad. I will be sure that my brothers and sister, the grands & greatgrands all see it!

Best wishes in your work and on your next degree. Having grown up witnessing the working life of Bohaska and Eshelman, Domning and Barnes, Ward and Dooley, Mead and Fordyce, et alia, all the way back to Harry Ladd (in whose office I often ate lunch with the other "Pacific" folks) ~ I know it to be a great life! And I believe it helps people live longer, too.

Susan Hale Whitmore
Silver Spring, Maryland

Robert Boessenecker said...

Dear Susan,

I'm sorry to hear about your father's passing, but I am sure you can at least take solace in how long and rich his life was. I arrived in marine mammal paleontology a little late in the game - just within the past few years, and just started my Ph.D. with Dr. R. Ewan Fordyce down here in New Zealand a few weeks ago. Although I never met Dr. Whitmore (and the same is true for many other students in my generation) - we are in a way intellectual descendants, if you will, as his research and thinking have all affected ours. More importantly, the universally wonderful things I've heard about him seem to have positively affected our small field in general.

Best regards, Robert Boessenecker

Bruce Mohn said...

I was sorry to read of Dr. Whitmore's passing. I had the privilege of being supervised by Dr. Whitmore while preparing the braincase of a fossil balenopterid in the Smithsonian's Vertebrate Paleontology Preparation Lab during the summer of 1992. I admired his wit,his kindness and his knowledge of the material. He will be missed.