May 5, 1820|
|Died||June 14, 1876
Elkanah Billings (May 5, 1820 – June 14, 1876) is often referred to as Canada's first paleontologist. Billings was born on a farm by the Rideau River outside Bytown (Ottawa), now known as Billings Estate. His parents were named Lamira and Braddish Billings. His family included an older sister named Sabra and an older brother Maj Braddish Billings Jr, who practiced as an architect and served in the North West Rebellion. His brother W. Ross Billings also practiced as an architect. His younger siblings were Samuel, Sarah and Charles. He was originally educated in law and in 1845, he was called to the Canadian bar. In 1852, he founded the journal the Canadian Naturalist (and Geologist). He continued to practice law until 1856, when he was hired to be the first paleontologist for Geological Survey of Canada (GSC). In his lifetime, he identified 1065 new species and 61 new genera, including Aspidella, the first documented fossil of the Ediacaran biota.
He married Helen Walker Wilson in 1845. However, he was childless.
- Billings E. 1865. Palaeozoic Fossils. Volume I. Containing descriptions and figures of new or little known species of organic remains from the Silurian rocks, 1861-1865. Dawson Brothers, Montreal. Geological Survey of Canada, Separate Report, 426 pp.
- Gover, Nancy (1986), A brief history of the Billings family of Ottawa 1812-1975., Ottawa, Ontario: Billings Estate Museum
- Kitchen, Kevin (1996), Braddish Billings, Esquire, early Ottawa entrepreneur. Bytown pamphlet series., Ottawa, Ontario: The Historical Society of Ottawa
- Clark, T.H. (1970–80). "Billings, Elkanah". Dictionary of Scientific Biography 2. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 128–129. ISBN 978-0-684-10114-9.
- Randy Boswell (18 December 2009). "Near-forgotten Canadian scientist discovered new era in life on Earth". Calgary Herald (Canwest News Service). Retrieved 18 April 2010. with image
- Works by or about Elkanah Billings at Internet Archive
- Elkanah Billings: Lawyer/Journalist/Paleontologist Web article developed by the Law Society of Upper Canada Archives
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