Donald Baird and his discoveries of Carboniferous and early Mesozoic vertebrates in Nova Scotia


  • Hans-Dieter Sues Senior Research Geologist and Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology National Museum of Natural History Smithsonian Institution
  • Robert W. Hook
  • Paul E. Olsen



Paleontology, vertebrates, Carboniferous, Mesozoic, Nova Scotia.


Donald Baird (1926–2011), an influential and innovative vertebrate paleontologist with a scientific career spanning nearly 50 years, had an exceptional breadth of expertise in the study of late Paleozoic and Mesozoic vertebrates and their life traces. Beginning in 1956, Baird conducted fieldwork in the Carboniferous and Triassic-Jurassic of Nova Scotia, making a total of 21 trips in 30 years. His many scientific contributions include the discoveries of important assemblages of Carboniferous vertebrates as well as an unexpectedly diverse record of early Mesozoic tetrapods and their trackways in the province. Baird also encouraged and supported fieldwork by other vertebrate paleontologists as well as amateurs in Nova Scotia and elsewhere. His career-long commitment to the vertebrate paleontology of the province was instrumental in establishing it as an important source of fossils of Carboniferous and early Mesozoic continental vertebrates.


Donald Baird (1926–2011), paléontologiste des vertébrés influent et novateur dont la carrière scientifique s’est échelonnée sur près de 50 ans, a acquis un savoir-faire exceptionnel dans l’étude des vertébrés du Paléozoïque tardif et du Mésozoïque et des vestiges de leur vie. À partir de 1956, M. Baird a mené des études sur le terrain du Carbonifère et du Trias-Jurassique en Nouvelle-Écosse, où il s’est rendu au total 21 fois en 30 ans. Ses nombreuses contributions scientifiques comprennent notamment les découvertes d’importants assemblages de vertébrés du Carbonifère ainsi que d’un nombre étonnamment diversifié de tétrapodes du Mésozoïque inférieur et de leurs traces dans la province. M. Baird a en outre encouragé et soutenu les études sur le terrain d’autres paléontologistes des vertébrés et d’amateurs du domaine en Nouvelle-Écosse et ailleurs. Pendant toute sa carrière, il s’est consacré à la paléontologie des vertébrés de la province, ce qui a contribué à la réputation de la Nouvelle-Écosse en tant que source importante de fossiles de vertébrés continentaux du Carbonifère et du Mésozoïque inférieur.


Author Biography

Hans-Dieter Sues, Senior Research Geologist and Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology National Museum of Natural History Smithsonian Institution

Hans-Dieter (Hans) Sues is Senior Scientist and Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. He is a leading expert on the evolutionary morphology, paleoecology, and phylogeny of Mesozoic reptiles and mammalian precursors. Sues successfully led major field projects in the United States and other countries in search of dinosaurs and other fossil vertebrates.

Sues received his M.A. and Ph.D. in biology from Harvard University. He conducted postdoctoral research at McGill University and the National Museum of Natural History.

To date Sues has authored or co-authored more than 130 refereed articles and book chapters, including 14 papers in Science and Nature. He co-authored Triassic Life on Land: The Great Transition (2010), edited Evolution of Herbivory in Terrestrial Vertebrates (2000), and co-edited Terrestrial Ecosystems through Time (1992), In the Shadow of the Dinosaurs (1994), and Major Transitions in Vertebrate Evolution (2007). Sues also serves as editor for various scientific journals and book series.

Sues’s research and museum work have been widely covered by the press and media nationally and internationally. In recognition of his scientific contributions, he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and received an Alexander von Humboldt Research Award.

Sues has been a tireless advocate for the importance of museum collections in addressing major contemporary scientific issues and in science education. He has rebuilt curatorial research programs at the Royal Ontario Museum and the National Museum of Natural History. He has served as President of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology and Vice President of the Natural Science Collections Alliance.




How to Cite

Sues, H.-D., Hook, R. W., & Olsen, P. E. (2013). Donald Baird and his discoveries of Carboniferous and early Mesozoic vertebrates in Nova Scotia. Atlantic Geoscience, 49, 90–103.