This is a personal account of the human side of Everett C Olson's distinguished career as a palaeobiologist. Origins and the combination of events that led to a formal education at the University of Chicago, the selection of a career, and an interest in the Permian are reviewed. Then Olson vividly describes two decades of field work in Texas, emphasising the people, places and events that he and his co-workers encountered there at mid-century. The second half of the book is devoted to Olson's pioneering efforts in establishing and strengthening ties between palaeontologists of the US and USSR during the Cold War years and especially his deepening friendship with Professor Ivan A Efremov. Olson and Efremov, two scientists from different cultures, wrestled with opposing philosophies but shared common interests and emotions. This book will certainly be of interest to the many people who have known Dr Olson as colleague, mentor, and friend. For the general reader, the book provides insights into the career of a distinguished contemporary scientist and represents an important chapter in the 20th century history of palaeontology, earth science, and international scientific relations.
Everett C Olson has had a long and distinguished career as a vertebrate palaeontologist. 'Ole' received his formal higher education at the University of Chicago. Upon completing his doctorate in 1935, he joined the faculty of the Department of Geology at his alma mater. In 1969, he left Chicago to join the Department of Biology at UCLA, where he taught until his retirement in 1977. Olson's research has focused on the evolution of lower vertebrates from the Permocarboniferous; the origin of mammals; and the taphonomy, biogeography, and evolution of fossil communities. From this research have come 170 scientific papers and six books in the field of palaeontology. In recognition of his scientific accomplishments and service to his discipline, Ole has received the Palaeontological Medal of the Palaeontological Society and the Distinguished Service Medal of the Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology.