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Tribute to Bill Riedel from Paulian Dumitrica

Dear all,

The disappearance of Bill Riedel is a great loss for our commmunity. Without him the research of radiolarians would have not been so advanced as it is at present. Contrary to what Campbell sustained in his much criticised volum of Radiolaria published in 1954, he proved that radiolarians evolved rapidly from Paleozoic to Recent and can be succesfully used as biostratigraphic tools in a similar way as planktonic foraminifers. His contribution to the development of radiolarian research through the DSDP and IPOD projects is enormous. Due to him, and of course to so many authors, we have now a rather detailed biostratigraphic scale of the Cenozoic and Cretaceous radiolarians and of other siliceous microfossils. The taxpnomy of these microfossils, too, could not have arrived at the detailed precision of today without his contribution.

As for me, I owe a lot to Bill. He helped me especially during my first ten years of radiolarian research by providing copies of some rare papers of different authors which I could not find in Romania. He also provided me hyrax, a resin with which I could make sections in Mesozoic cryptocephalic and cryptothoracic radiolarians, and many others, because Canada balsam, due to its refractive index, was not adequate for radiolarians with crystalized silica. It was to him that I showed, in 1966, when he visited me in Bucharest, the first radiolarians I had extracted from chert and other Mesozoic siliceous rocks using diluted hydrofluoric acid. He was very enthusiastic of the possibility of extracting radiolarians from such rocks, from which they had been studied until then in thin sections, and he pushed me to publish this discovery. Unfortunately, due to my poor knowledge of the English language at that time, I hesitated to write an article about this method, and in my article from 1970 I just mentioned it without description, because I had thought that it is a very simple method and it is not necessary to describe it in detail. I just wrote that the radiolarians have been extracted from siliceous rocks by using diluted hydrofluoric acid. Naivity! The technique was described two years later (april 1972) by Pessagno & Newport. When, in november 1972, being in a short visit in the Scripps Institution, in transit to Fidji as a member of the scientific team of the Leg 21 of DSDP, Bill showed me this article of which I had no idea, I understood that even in science the competition, the struggle for being the first is pitiless. Of course, it depends on person.
I esteemed a lot Bill Riedel. To him I dedicated the cryptothoracic genus Williriedellum in 1970, type genus of the Mesozoic family Williriedellidae, many species and, recently, the larnacillid genus Sanfiriedellus dedicated to Bill and to our colleague Annica Sanfilippo his lontime collaborator.
I think that it is not a bad idea to dedicate to him the next INTERRAD or a special meeting.

My condoleances to the family

Paulian Dumitrica
Doctor in geology
University of Lausanne
Géologie et paléontologie