Thomas Stanley Westoll

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Thomas Stanley Westoll, FRS[1] FRSE, FGS (3 Jul 1912 – 19 Sep 1995) was the long-time head of the Department of Geology at Newcastle University.

Education and career

He was born in West Hartlepool and educated at the local grammar school. He began a brilliant career as zoologist, palaeontologist, but primarily a geologist, when he entered Armstrong College at the age of 17 by means of an open entrance scholarship in 1929. Armstrong College went on eventually to become Newcastle University. He gained a B.Sc in geology in 1932 and a PhD in 1934 from research on Permian fishes. His association with Newcastle University was to endure throughout his life, his central interest being the study of fossil fish. He was head of department from 1948 until his retirement in 1977. In retirement he remained as a research fellow and Chairman of Convocation.[2]

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in March 1952.[1][3] The citation on his application read: "Westoll is a palaeontologist who by his description of new materials and by the introduction of new and fertile ideas into the interpretation of the structure of early fossil vertebrates has greatly increased our understanding of the problems they present. He has introduced new views about the origins of the pectoral fins of craniates and of the Tetrapod limb. He has clarified our ideas about the homologies of the dermal skull bones of vertebrates and made a new and convincing comparison between the skulls of Amphibia and Fish. He has made important contributions towards the solution of the old problems of the origin of the mammalian palate and ear. His monograph of the Haplolepidae sets a new standard for taxonomic work on fossil fish". [4]

He was on the council of the Royal Society and from 1972 to 1974 was President of the Geological Society of London.

He died in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1995.

Research interests

His research interests were wide ranging, but he is best known for his work on the evolution of fish. The development of the tetrapod limb and issues with the Silurian-Devonian boundary were some of the topics which occupied him. Throughout a long academic career he made forceful and important contributions in these and other fields


  1. 1.0 1.1 Patterson, C.; Fortey, R. A. (1999). "Thomas Stanley Westoll. 3 July 1912--19 September 1995: Elected F.R.S. 1952". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 45: 531. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1999.0035.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Thomas Stanley Westoll" (PDF). Edinburgh: The Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 20 July 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Lists of Royal Society Fellows 1660-2007ll". London: The Royal Society. Retrieved 20 July 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  4. "Library and Archive Catalog". London: The Royal Society. Retrieved 20 July 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links