Richard Bullen Newton, British palaeontologist, obtained work at the age of thirteen at the Geological Survey of Great Britain, where his father was librarian and his uncle a palaeontologist. In 1873 he was appointed as assistant naturalist under T.H. Huxley* and in 1880 was transferred to the British Museum (Natural History) where he eventually became senior assistant in the Geology Department. He became an expert conchologist with a special interest in Tertiary Mollusca. His studies of collections of fossils from all over the world contributed substantially to geological knowledge of Africa, Asia and the Near East. He also studied the Foraminifera as guides to geological horizons.
Between 1889 and 1923 he published over 100 palaeontological papers and monographs, most of them on Cretaceous and Tertiary fossil invertebrates from Madagascar, southern Africa, Angola, Egypt, Nigeria and other countries. The following papers pertained to southern Africa: "On the occurrence of Alectryonaria ungulata in South-East Africa; with a notice of previous researches of the Cretaceous conchology of South Africa" (Journal of Conchology, 1896), in which he described a fossil oyster found by David Draper* at Sofala, Mozambique, and critically reviewed the literature on the fossils of the Uitenhage Group, concluding that they were of Lower Cretaceous age; "Note on the occurrence of Nummulitic limestone in South-Eastern Africa" (Geological Magazine, 1896); "Cretaceous gasteropoda and pelecypoda from Zululand" (Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa, 1908-1910, Vol. 1, pp. 1-124); "On some Kainozoic [Cenozoic] shells from South Africa" (Records of the Albany Museum, 1913), dealing with fossil shells collected by Mrs F.M. Paterson* near Redhouse, Port Elizabeth; "Cretaceous fossils from the Bethelsdorp salt pans, S.A., belonging to the Albany Museum" (Ibid, 1914); "On some fresh-water fossils from central South Africa" (Annals and Magazine of Natural History, 1920); and an appendix on tertiary fossils from Mozambique, published with a paper by E.G. Teale on the geology of that territory in the Transactions of the Geological Society of South Africa in 1923.
Newton's other publications included a systematic list of British Oligocene and Eocene Mollusca in the Department of Geology of the British Museum (1891), and contributions on fossil Mollusca from the reef limestones of Christmas Island (not dated), fossils from the island of Taiwan and the Ryukyu islands (1902), the shales of the Malay Peninsula (1905), and Eocene Mollusca from Nigeria (1922). During 1910-1912 he was president of both the Malacological Society of London and the Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Altogether he named about 24 new genera and species.