I was thrilled to hear that Mandageria fairfaxi won and Canowindra is now the home of the NSW State Fossil – what a great honour for the town!
Dr Alex Ritchie is not just “a palaeontologist who played a major role in the rediscovery and excavation of the Canowindra fossil site in 1993”. Dr Ritchie is THE palaeontologist who rediscovered the fossil site and organised for it to be excavated! Dr Ritchie is also THE palaeontologist who initiated the Age of Fishes Museum to be built at Canowindra instead of moving the fossils to Sydney.
He encouraged Zerina Johanson and Per Ahlberg to describe most of the fishes discovered at the Canowindra fossil site, thus encouraging a new generation of palaeontologists. Dr Ritchie has dedicated the past 22 years
of his life to promoting the Canowindra fish fossils and the museum. It was he who, over 10 years ago, came up with the idea to nominate one of the Canowindra fishes as the NSW State Fossil in order to raise Canowindra’s
and the fossils’ public profile.
He submitted the initial nomination for Canowindra grossi and, when that failed due to the fact that there was still only one known specimen, he didn’t give up but instead put together the nomination for Mandageria fairfaxi.
It took a further 3 years, and lots of lobbying on his part, for this nomination to come to fruition.
Most of Dr Ritchie’s work happens in the background, from home, in his own, unpaid time. Unfortunately, most people are not aware of his REAL contribution to Canowindra and the Age of Fishes Museum, which is no doubt why he suddenly became just ‘a palaeontologist’. He is the father of the AOFM!
Weston Creek, ACT