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Trilobites of New York: An Interview with the Rochester Academy of Science Author

by Anne-Roth Blizzard

Trilobite of New York"Trilobites of New York" is a newly published, impressive guide to the ever popular and often elusive fossils prized by collectors.

Three gentlemen with local connections collaborated in developing and writing the book. Tom Whiteley (retired Associate Director of Photographic Research at Eastman Kodak) was responsible for most of the photography and information on Cambrian and Ordovician trilobites.

Carlton Brett (former Geology professor at the University of Rochester) wrote sections dealing with taphonomy and the paleogeology of New York.

Gerry Kloc AuthorGerald Kloc, member of the RAS Fossil Section and Geological Technician at the University of Rochester's Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences contributed information regarding Silurian and Devonian trilobites. Additionally, Gerry "prepped" approximately 50% of the trilobites pictured in the book.

In his younger years Gerry dabbled in entomology, amassing an insect collection, most of which consisted of beetles, his favourite bug. Anyone who has been fortunate enough to accompany Gerry on a field trip can imagine the depths of his youthful enthusiasm in capturing various shiny beetles.

While studying Mathematics at SUNY Buffalo in the early 1970s Gerry made an auspicious decision to take an elective course in Physical Geology. He found this interesting enough to register for classes in Historical Geology. When he happened upon his first trilobite Gerry thought "WOH! These are like beetles in a rock!" That was Gerry's epiphany. Those of us who are passionate about our interests in the natural world are familiar with that moment of pure delight at first discovering an entity or idea that captures our hearts. Gerry's insect collection began to suffer from benign neglect...

As his studies in Paleontology progressed and he gained experience in prepping ammonoids from concretions for his Master's thesis, Gerry noticed that many fossil specimens were poorly prepared. This was particularly evident in Moroccan trilobite specimens in which their free standing spines were manually cemented. Gerry successfully prepped the first Moroccan 'bite, a Drotops armatus, leaving its spines intact during the process. His work was a dramatic innovation which earned Gerry the notoriety that the patience and skill of a gifted craftsperson commands.

In the course of prepping many trilobites over the years Gerry noticed subtle differences within species such as spine length and glabella width and shape. He detected that perhaps certain animals with significant variations had been grouped for the sake of convenience under one name in species to which they did not appear to belong. Gerry also discovered that there were many undescribed trilobites in New York State.

It is Gerry's hope that the work his book represents will lead to greater clarification of trilobite species classification. The book contains exceptional photographs. Every type of trilobite found in New York State is listed. The book includes an extensive glossary, references and information regarding characteristics of the sea environment in which each type of trilobite lived. At a recent gathering of the Fossil Section "die hards", Gerry was heard responding to questions about various 'bites with a commanding "It's in the book!"

RAS members will attest to the fact that Gerry's enthusiasm and knowledge regarding trilobites, other fossil creatures and stratigraphy is both impressive and infectious. He has been inscribing "Trilobites of New York" for his friends, writing "May this book inspire you to spend more time collecting trilobites." No doubt it will.



Last Updated: December 6, 2002