Charles Emerson Beecher


October 9, 1856

Birth place

Dunkirk, New York, USA


February 14, 1904





Work institutions

Yale Peabody Museum

Alma mater

University of Michigan


James Hall, Othniel Charles Marsh

Charles Emerson Beecher was an American Paleontologist most famous for the first excavation and study of the Beecher's Trilobite Beds and eventually rising to Curator of Geological Specimens at the Yale Peabody Museum.

Beecher began collecting fossils from local sandstones and shales when his family moved to northwestern Pennsylvania, resulting in a collection of fossil phyllocarids and freshwater unionids prior to his studying for an undergraduate degree from University of Michigan (B.S. 1878).[1]

Following graduation, Beecher worked as personal assistant to the highly influential James Hall for 10 years, and then at the request of Othniel Charles Marsh moved to New Haven to oversee the Yale Peabody Museum’s growing collection of invertebrate fossils.[1] Beecher was awarded his doctorate for his study on Brachiospongidae (enigmatic Silurian sponges) in 1891.[1] In 1892 Beecher renewed his working relationship with Charles Schuchert (who had also worked with Hall) preparing slabs of Crawfordsville crinoids for the 'Chicago Exposition'.[2] From 1893-1895 Beecher was first to thoroughly excavate a thin deposit of shale that now bears his name; the Beecher's Trilobite Beds.[3] Exceptional preservation (by pyrite) of soft body parts later marked out Beecher's Trilobite Beds as a highly significant paleontological site, a Konservat-Lagerstätten.[4]

Beecher’s promotion path at Yale was rapid. He ascended to Professor of Historical Geology in 1897 and, on the death of Marsh in 1899, Beecher succeeded him as Curator of the Geological Collections.[1] Beecher died suddenly in 1904 leaving many of his studies unfinished.[3] Beecher was succeeded by his colleague Schuchert as Curator of the Geological Collections.[2]

Although Beecher is most famous for his work on trilobites[5][6] he is also regarded for his work on corals and was ultimately regarded as a leading authority on fossil crustacea and brachiopoda. Beecher was also noted for contributions in ecology and evolution.[7]

Career Edit

  • B.S., University of Michigan, 1878
  • Assistant to J. Hall, New York State Museum, 1878-1888
  • Yale University Ph.D., 1889
  • Assistant, Peabody Museum, 1888-1899
  • Instructor in paleontology, 1891-1892
  • Assistant professor paleontology, 1892-1897
  • Professor of historical geology, 1897-1902
  • Professor of paleontology, 1902-1904
  • Curator of geological collections, Peabody Museum, 1899-1904

See also Edit

  • Beecher's Trilobite Beds the important fossil deposit that bears his name
  • Amer. Journ. Science, vol. xvii., June 1904 article on Beecher by Schuchert

References Edit

  1. ^ a b c d Yale Peabody Museum biography of Beecher
  2. ^ a b Yale Peabody Museum biography of Schuchert
  3. ^ a b Martha Buck's 2004 senior thesis on the Beecher's Trilobite Bed
  4. ^ Butterfield, Nicholas J. (2003). "Exceptional Fossil Preservation and the Cambrian Explosion". Integrative and Comparative Biology 43 (1): 166–177. doi:10.1093/icb/43.1.166. 
  5. ^ Beecher, C.E. (1893a). "A larval form of Triarthrus". American Journal of Science 46: 361–362. 
  6. ^ Beecher, C.E. (1893b). "On the thoracic legs of Triarthrus". American Journal of Science 46: 467–470. 
  7. ^ Beecher, C.E. (1898). "The origin and significance of spines: A study in Evolution". From the American Journal of Science July - October 1896. 

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