S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Pope, Mr (fossil collection)

Born: Date not known, Place not known.
Died: Date not known, Place not known.

Mr Pope, of the Cape of Good Hope, presented a series of fossil reptilian remains, consisting mainly of bones of the genus Dicynodon, to the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1836. With the exception of the Karoo fossils found and described by C.H. Grisbrook*, Pope's finds appear to be the earliest vertebrate fossils recorded from southern Africa. According to the Proceedings of the Asiatic society of Bengal (1836, Vol. 5, p. 518) the remains were collected "in the bed of the Gamka River in the district between the Zwarteberg and the Nieuwbergen in the central part of the Cape Colony, Lat. 33 S and 22-23 W Long." This description places the find in rocks of the Beaufort Group, somewhere close to the present road between Leeu Gamka and Beaufort West. The fossils were presented to the society "through Mr J. Trotter". He was probably John Trotter (senior), of the Bengal Civil Service. In 1825 he had addressed a letter to W. Robertson and other members of a committee nominated by the merchants of the Cape, requiring them to compile "a report on the state of the commerce, finances, and agriculture of that colony, for the consideration of His Majesty's commission of inquiry."

List of sources:
MacRay, C. Life etched in stone: Fossils of South Africa (p. 5). Johannesburg: Geological Society of South Africa, 1999.

South African bibliography to the year 1925 (J. Trotter). London: Mansell, 1979.

The very first fossil collector in South Africa? Palaeontological News, 1978, Vol. 1(2), p. 5.

Compiled by: C. Plug