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Ruth Holden, Howard Falcon-Lang and Abby Othman

Ruth Holden is not a well-known name in the history of New Brunswick geology. Her singular contribution being a description of Triassic fossil wood from Martin Head just west of Fundy National Park. In 1911 Holden was a 20 year-old paleobotanist from Massachusetts, one of the few women in a field dominated by men. She received the Wilby Prize, awarded to graduate women at Harvard University’s Radcliffe College, to support her work and collected fossils from Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick in the summer of 1911. Holden was able to correlate the rocks near Martin Head with those of New England. Sadly her work was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I and Holden died on the Russian Front in 1917 where she served with a British Medical unit.

More than 90 years later Howard Falcon-Lang and graduate student Abby Othman from Bristol University in England took up the work where Ruth Holden left off.  Like Holden, Othman tested the high tides of the Bay of Fundy to recollect samples near Martin Head. Fossil conifers attributed to Cupressinoxylon and Araucarioxylon shed light on the climate of the Pangea in the Triassic.