|Richard A. Fortey|
Fortey in Adelaide, South Australia, 2014
|Born||15 February 1946|
|Institutions||University of Cambridge
Natural History Museum
|Notable awards||Frink Medal (2000)
Fellow of the Royal Society
Michael Faraday Prize (2006)
Linnean Medal (2006)
Richard A. Fortey FRS (born 15 February 1946 in London) is a British palaeontologist, writer and television presenter. He served as President of the Geological Society of London for its bicentennial year of 2007.
Early life and education
Fortey has had a long career as a palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum in London. Fortey’s research interests include, above all, trilobites. He has stated that he found his first one when he was 14, and the interest later turned into a career. He has named numerous trilobite species and still continues his research despite having retired from the Museum. Fortey studies trilobites and graptolites, especially those from the Ordovician, and their systematics, evolution and modes of life. He is also involved in research on Ordovician palaeogeography and correlation; arthropod evolution, especially the origin of major groups; and the relationships between divergence times as revealed by molecular evidence and the fossil record.
In 1993, Fortey's The Hidden Landscape was named the Natural World Book of the Year.
Since 1997, he has been a member of the Royal Society. Life was short-listed for the Rhône-Poulenc Prize in 1998; Trilobite! was short-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2001. He was Collier Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and Technology at the Institute of Advanced Studies in the University of Bristol 2002. He was Visiting Professor of Palaeobiology at Oxford University 1999-2009.
Fortey appeared in "Putting Flesh on Bone", the second episode of David Attenborough's Lost Worlds Vanished Lives in 1989. He also made an appearance in another Attenborough series, First Life (2010), travelling with the presenter to the Atlas mountains to find and film trilobite fossils.
In 2012, Fortey presented the BBC Four series Survivors: Nature's Indestructible Creatures, which took a global look at modern-day species whose ancestors survived mass extinction events in the Earth's history.
In 2013 he presented the BBC Four programme The Secret Life of Rock Pools, which aired on 16 April 2013.
In 2014, Fortey presented the BBC Four three part series Fossil Wonderlands: Nature's Hidden Treasures, when he travelled to fossil sites to learn more about the distant past. It aired from 11 March 2014.
In 2014, he presented the BBC4 programme The Magic of Mushrooms, in which he showed that fungi had close but still poorly understood inter-relationships with plants and animals including man.
- The Hidden Landscape (1993)
- Life: An Unauthorised Biography. A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth (1997)
- Trilobite!: Eyewitness to Evolution (2000)
- Fossils: The Key to the Past (2002)
- Earth: An Intimate History (2004)
- Dry Store Room no.1 (2008, ISBN 978-0-307-27552-3)
- Survivors (2011)
- Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms: The Story of the Animals and Plants That Time Has Left Behind (2012), North American edition of Survivors.
For his academic research Fortey has won the Lyell Medal of the Geological Society of London, the Linnean Medal for Zoology of the Linnean Society of London, the Frink Medal of the Zoological Society of London, the R. C. Moore Medal of the SEPM, the T. N. George Medal of the Geological Society of Glasgow.
For popular science he has won the Lewis Thomas Prize for science writing (2003) and is the 2006 holder of the Royal Society's Michael Faraday Prize for the public communication of science. He has also turned his pen to writing dinosaur poems for children and even a spoof book on the Rubik's Cube.
Fortey was elected President of the Geological Society of London for its bicentennial year of 2007 and was recently awarded honorary degrees by the University of St Andrews, Open University, and Birmingham University. He has also been President of the Palaeontological Association and Palaeontographical Society. He was elected in 2009 a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
- Review by Colin Tudge of the book "Earth: An Intimate History", by Richard Fortey. "Earth: An Intimate History"