2023 Harold Wellman Prize:
This prize goes to Derek for his discovery of a shark’s spiral valve. The spiral valve in a shark is essentially its stomach which has a spiral pattern on its exterior.
To preserve soft tissue structures in the geological record one needs a fine-grained sediment to record an imprint of the shape. In this instance the sedimentary rock in which the spiral valve was found was Whangai Shale, at a location south-east of Dannevirke near Pongaroa.
It is the only shark ‘spiral valve’ fossil found in New Zealand, and one of few anywhere in the world.
Past Harold Wellman Prize winners
|Thomas Stolberger and Nathan Collins
|The discovery of several new species, including two new species of bulimoid land snail discovered during the construction on Watercare’s Central Interceptor wastewater tunnel in Māngere, Auckland.
|For a decade collecting specimens of penguin, whale, dolphin and fish bones from the Hakataramea Limestone Quarry which have been generously donated to the University of Otago collections.
|For his work on fossils in the Maungataniwha Native Forest, including the largest mosasaur tooth on record in New Zealand.
|Chatham Island Palaeocene fossil sponges.
|Rich Pliocene plant fossil beds Beachlands, Auckland.
|Discovery of fossil material which was identified as the holotype of the extinct leatherback turtle Psephophorus terrypratchetti.
|Discovery of a new species of Paleocene bird (Australornis lovei) in the Waipara greensand deposits of North Canterbury.
|Adrian & Thomas King
|Discovery of a very well preserved flatfish fossil from the shallow marine-deposited Titiokura Fm, Te Pohue, western Hawke's Bay.
|Fossil partial lower jaw of a large baleen whale.
|Barry Douglas & Jon Lundqvist
|1978-79 discovery of the "St Bathans fauna" in the Manuherikia Group.
|Late Cretaceous mosasaur coprolite.
|Late Cretaceous dinosaur footprints NW Nelson.
|New fossil insects in New Zealand.
|Marine bird skulls in Pliocene sediments near Hawera.
|A Mid Pleistocene marine fauna raised 200m above sea level on the Chatham Is
|Hamilton Junior Naturalist Club
|Paleogene fossil penguin, Kawhia Harbour
|Fossil marine turtle
|Late Cretaceous fossil fish, Pitt Island
|Tertiary fungi and flowers
|North Otago Miocene mollusca, dolphin, whale locality
|Initial discovery of reptile bones in Mangahouanga Stream
|Oldest NZ fossil flowers (Late Cretaceous)
|First Jurassic dinosaur bone in NZ
|First Cambrian fossils in New Zealand
|Paleocene penguin fossils from Waipara area
|Fossil intertidal invertebrates, Cape Turakirae
|First NZ Permian conodonts
|Late Triassic radiolaria in Torlesse rocks, Orongorongo River
|Dactylioceras cf anquinum, first Ururoan indicator in South Island
|First fossil sulphur-reducing black smoker-type fauna in NZ waters
|Amrnonoids in the top of the Maitai Group
|Fossil discoveries on offshore islands and in eastern North Island
|Mid Permian fusulinid foraminifera, Canterbury
Harold Wellman (1909-1999) was a scientist unrivalled in the remarkable contribution he made to our understanding of New Zealand earth science. He had a varied and colourful early career as a gold miner, surveyor and geophysical survey assistant. In 1937 he joined New Zealand Geological Survey's coal resources survey in Greymouth, which began his most productive period of research. His intense geological debates with colleagues at the bar of the Albion Hotel in Greymouth are now legendary.
Harold is best known for his recognition of the Alpine Fault, but his major contributions to advancing New Zealand earth science are many. They included establishment of the New Zealand Fossil Record File, recognition of major displacements of rock in Northland, development of biostratigraphic stages for subdividing the New Zealand marine Cretaceous based on field observations and collections of fossil Inoceramus.
In the mid-1950s Harold had a short stint with British Petroleum in Gisborne before taking a position in the Geology Department at Victoria University of Wellington in 1958, an attachment he maintained even after his retirement in 1974. Harold's international reputation in pioneering structural and tectil tonic geology was highlighted in a 1992 BBC Horizon documentary on him, titled "The Man that moved the Mountains."
Harold and his wife Joan provided the funds for the first Harold Wellman Prize for an important fossil find, because in the 1980s he felt that the role of paleontology in geology was losing its former significance. In 1998 they established the Wellman Research Awards to assist young geology researchers.