Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska

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Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska
Born Zofia Kielan
(1925-04-25)25 April 1925
Sokołów Podlaski, Poland
Died 13 March 2015(2015-03-13) (aged 89)
Nationality Polish
Alma mater Warsaw University
Zbigniew Jaworowski (m. 1958)
Scientific career
Fields Paleontology
Institutions Polska Akademia Nauk

Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska (25 April 1925 – 13 March 2015) was a Polish paleobiologist. In the mid-1960s Kielan-Jaworowska led a series of Polish-Mongolian paleontological expeditions to the Gobi Desert. Kielan-Jaworowska was the first woman to serve on the executive committee of the International Union of Geological Sciences.[1][2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Zofia Kielan- Jaworowska was born in Sokolow Podlaski, Poland, on April 25, 1925. However, in 1928 her father, Franciszek Kielan, was offered a job for the Association of Agriculture and Trade Cooperatives in Warsaw. Her family then moved to Warsaw for 5 years in order to accommodate her father’s new job. Zofia and family then returned to Warsaw in 1934 and lived in the small town of Zoliborz. Zofia began her studies in Warsaw, following the destruction after the war. The Nazis attempted to completely destroy the city, resulting in the Department of Geology joining the ruins. Zofia then attended lectures instead given by the Polish paleontologist, Roman Kozlowski, in his own home. This is her where her passion began. 15 years later, Zofia organized the first Polish-Mongolian paleontological quest to the Gobi Desert, and returned 7 more times following the first. She continued on to become the first woman to serve on the committee of the International Union of Geological Sciences. Zofia’s findings remain arguably unmatched by any living expert because they have yet to be trumped. [4] [5]

Kielan-Jaworowska's studies began in the aftermath of the Second World War: as Warsaw University's department of geology had been destroyed in 1939, she attended lectures in Roman Kozłowski's apartment.[4] She subsequently earned a master's degree in zoology and a paleontology doctorate at Warsaw University, where she later became a professor.

Career and research[edit]

Kielan-Jaworowska was employed by the Instytut Paleobiologii of the Polska Akademia Nauk. She held a number of functions in professional organizations in Poland and the United States, and was the first woman to serve on the executive committee of the International Union of Geological Sciences.[1]

Kielan-Jaworowska's work included the study of Devonian and Ordovician trilobites from Central Europe (Poland and Czech Republic), leading several Polish-Mongolian paleontological expeditions to the Gobi Desert, and the discovery of new species of crocodiles, lizards, turtles, dinosaurs (notably Deinocheirus), birds and multituberculates. She is author of the book Hunting for Dinosaurs, and a coauthor of the book Mammals from the Age of Dinosaurs.

Her work was published widely in peer reviewed scientific journals, books and monographs.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24]

During her time at The University of Warsaw, she started her journey of completing her master’s research. This allowed her to join in on expeditions with other paleontologists during this time and make various contributions. Kielan-Jaworowska participated in her first paleontological excavation in 1947 along with a group of researchers from the Museum of Earth and the National Geological Institute. The excavations, led by geologist Jan Czarnocki, took place in Poland’s Świętokrzyskie Mountains in exposures of Middle Devonian strata. The work being performed by the group involved digging for soft rock and rinsing away the sediment, consisting of yellow marl, in running water while using a sieve to collect any fossils that were present. Kielan-Jaworowska remained with the group for two months and specifically sought trilobite fossils, which would become the focus of her master’s thesis. She returned to specific sites in the Świętokrzyskie Mountains over the next three summers to continue developing her collection, which grew to over one hundred trilobite specimens. [5]

Kielan-Jaworowska was awarded her master’s degree in 1949 and had been employed as an assistant in the University of Warsaw’s Department of Paleontology since the fall of 1948. She worked there until 1952, teaching classes in paleontology for biology and geology students.[5]

During her expeditions from 1963 to 1971 to the Gobi Desert, she unearthed many dinosaurs and mammals from the Cretaceous and early Tertiary. Her findings were so extensive that in 1965, her team had shipped over 20 tons of fossils back to Poland. One of her most notable finds was in 1971, when she discovered a Protoceratops and a young Velociraptor tangled in a struggle. The fossilization process of how these two in this position was intact is still debated. Although her findings were mainly dinosaurs, she did not focus all her research on them. She concentrated on Paleozoic invertebrates from 1949 to 1963, especially three-lobed water bugs called trilobites. They were among the oldest fossils commonly found. This led her to shift her focus on researching Mesozoic mammals in 1963. [4][5]

Kielan-Jaworowska has added a great deal of contribution to monographs that detail findings of fossils, along with that, she also wrote her own book, Hunting for Dinosaurs, which give brief descriptions of her paleontological endeavors to the Gobi Desert. Her book was first written in Polish, but was then translated to English and published in 1969. The book notes of her exchange with the Mongolian people, as well as the hardships she faced to achieve her great success in her life’s work. Also, in her research she explored the asteroid theory regarding the mass extinction of dinosaurs. Kielan-Jaworowska concluded the book with noting how the research of the mass extinctions could promote awareness for future decades. Kielan-Jaworowska and her book gained international attention and fame. [25]

From 1960 to 1982, Zofia was appointed as Director of the Institute of Paleobiology. In 1982, Zofia stepped down from her position in order to undertake a visiting professorship at the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, which lasted for two years. Soon after her return to Warsaw, Zofia was appointed Professor of Paeleontology at the University of Oslo, which lasted from 1986 to 1995 when she was appointed Professor Emerita in the institute of Paleobiology.[26]

Awards and honours[edit]

She was a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.[27] Her book Mammals from the Age of Dinosaurs won her the prestigious Prize of the Foundation for Polish Science, in 2005. She was also awarded the Romer-Simpson Medal in 1996, Zofia became the 8th recipient of the Society of Vetebrate Paleontology’s Romer-Simpson Medal, which honors sustained and outstanding scholarly excellence in the discipline of Vertebrate Paleontology.[26]

Kielan-Jaworowska’s co-author Zhe-Xi Lou describes her contribution to paleontology as unmatched by any living experts, and that “in the whole of Mesozoic mammalian studies for the last 100 years, only the late American paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson would be her equal.” [4] “She is the rarest among the rare – she has been a leader in making important scientific contributions, and also a gregarious and charismatic figure, both of which have made paleontology a better science, and paleontologists worldwide a better community.”[4]

Personal life[edit]

She married Zbigniew Jaworowski, a professor of radiobiology, in 1958.[1]

Featured scientific work[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Ogilvie, Marilyn Bailey (2000). The biographical dictionary of women in science: pioneering lives from ancient times to the mid-20th century, Volume 1. Taylor & Francis. p. 694. ISBN 978-0-415-92038-4. 
  2. ^ Richard L. Cifelli (2015). "Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska (1925-2015) Discoverer of early mammals". Nature. 520 (7546): 158. doi:10.1038/520158a. PMID 25855448. 
  3. ^ Mikołuszko, Wojciech (13 March 2015). "Zmarła prof. Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska, wybitna paleontolożka. Niewielu polskich uczonych osiągnęło tyle, co ona" [Prof. Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska, outstanding paleontologist, has died. Few Polish scholars achieved as much as she.]. Wyborcza (in Polish). Retrieved 16 March 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Nick Crumpton (August 27, 2014). "Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska: Mighty Mammals of Mesozoic Mongolia!". trowelblazers.com. Retrieved August 30, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d paleoglot.org/files/ZKJ%20autobio2.doc
  6. ^ Kielan-Jaworowska, Z. (1974). Hunting for dinosaurs. Cambridge: MIT Press. p. 178. ISBN 978-0-262-61007-0. 
  7. ^ Kielan-Jaworowska, Z. (1979). "Pelvic structure and nature of reproduction in Multituberculata". Nature. 277 (5695): 402–403. doi:10.1038/277402a0. PMID 399323. 
  8. ^ Lillegraven, J. A., Kielan-Jaworowska, Z. and Clemens, W. A. (eds.), Mesozoic Mammals. The First Two-thirds of Mammalian History. University of California Press, Berkeley: 99-149.
  9. ^ Kielan-Jaworowska, Z. (1980). "Absence of ptilodontoidean multituberculates from Asia and its palaeogeographic implications". Lethaia. 13 (2): 169–173. doi:10.1111/j.1502-3931.1980.tb01047.x. 
  10. ^ Kielan-Jaworowska, Z. (2013). In pursuit of early mammals. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-00817-6. 
  11. ^ Fosse, G.; Kielan-Jaworowska, Z.; Skaale, S. G. (1985). "The microstructure of tooth enamel in multituberculate mammals". Palaeontology. 28: 435–449. 
  12. ^ Kielan-Jaworowska, Z.; Presley, R.; Poplin, C. (1986). "The Cranial Vascular System in Taeniolabidoid Multituberculate Mammals". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 313 (1164): 525–602. doi:10.1098/rstb.1986.0055. 
  13. ^ Kielan-Jaworowska, Z.; Dashzeveg, D.; Trofimov, B. A. (1987). "Early Cretaceous multituberculates from Asia and a comparison with British and North American Jurassic forms". Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. 32: 3–47. 
  14. ^ Kielan-Jaworowska, Z.; Crompton, A. W.; Jenkins, F. A. (1987). "The origin of egg-laying mammals". Nature. 326 (6116): 871–873. doi:10.1038/326871a0. 
  15. ^ Hopson, J. A.; Kielan-Jaworowska, Z.; Allin, E. F. (1989). "The cryptic jugal of multituberculates". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 9 (2): 201–209. doi:10.1080/02724634.1989.10011754. 
  16. ^ Kielan-Jaworowska, Z.; Nessov, L. V. A. (1990). "On the metatherian nature of the Deltatheroida, a sister group of the Marsupialia". Lethaia. 23: 1–10. doi:10.1111/j.1502-3931.1990.tb01776.x. 
  17. ^ Kielan-Jaworowska, Z.; Ensom, P. (1992). "Multituberculate mammals from the Purbeck Limestone Formation (Late Jurassic) of Southern England". Palaeontology. 36: 95–126. 
  18. ^ Krause, D.; Kielan-Jaworowska, Z.; Bonaparte, J. (1992). "Ferugliotherium Bonaparte, the first known multituberculate from South America". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 12 (3): 351–376. doi:10.1080/02724634.1992.10011465. JSTOR 4523458. 
  19. ^ Kielan-Jaworowska, Z.; Ensom, P. C. (1994). "Tiny plagiaulacoid multituberculate mammals from the Purbeck Limestone Formation of Dorset, England". Palaeontology. 37: 17–31. 
  20. ^ Kielan-Jaworowska, Z. (1996). "Characters of multituberculates neglected in phylogenetic analyses of early mammals". Lethaia. 29 (3): 249–266. doi:10.1111/j.1502-3931.1996.tb01658.x. 
  21. ^ Kielan-Jaworowska, Z.; Cifelli, R. L.; Luo, Z. (2007). "Alleged Cretaceous placental from down under". Lethaia. 31 (3): 267–268. doi:10.1111/j.1502-3931.1998.tb00516.x. 
  22. ^ Luo, Z. X.; Cifelli, R. L.; Kielan-Jaworowska, Z (2001). "Dual origin of tribosphenic mammals". Nature. 409 (6816): 53–7. doi:10.1038/35051023. PMID 11343108. 
  23. ^ Kielan-Jaworowska, Z.; Hurum, J.H. (2001). "Phylogeny and systematics of multituberculate mammals". Palaeontology. 44 (3): 389–429. doi:10.1111/1475-4983.00185. 
  24. ^ Kielan-Jaworowska; Cifelli, Richard L.; Zhe-Xi Luo (2004). Mammals from the age of dinosaurs : origins, evolution, and structure. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-11918-6. 
  25. ^ "Rocky Road: Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska". www.strangescience.net. 
  26. ^ a b William A. Clemens, ZOFIA KIELAN-JAWOROWSKA (25 APRIL 1925 - 13 MARCH 2015) PASSES AWAY AT AGE 89 June 18, 2015; Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
  27. ^ "Gruppe 3: Geofag" (in Norwegian). Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Retrieved 7 October 2010.