Professor Oliver M[eredith] B[oone] Bulman, F.R.S., [Sc.D., F.G.S.] the distinguished
palaeontologist, who was for many years the leading world authority on the graptolites,
has been died at the aged of 71.
He was born in London on May 20, 1902, and was educated at the Battersea
Grammar School, Chelsea Polytechnic, and the Imperial College of Science and
Technology. After he had taken his degree, a Beit Scientist Research Fellowship enabled
him to embark upon three years of post-graduated work at the Imperial College. His
interests in those early years included such diverse branches of geology as vertebrate
anatomy and the heavy minerals of sandstones, but under the influence of W.W. Watts,
his researches became focused upon the Lower Palaeozoic rocks of Shropshire, where
he worked for some years in close association with C.J. Stubblefield (later director of the
Geological Survey) and W.F. Whittard (later professor of geology at Bristol).
In the course of this work he acquired an interest in the graptolites, and
after taking his PhD in 1926, he moved to Cambridge in order to study
these fossils intensively under the supervision of G.L. Elles. Thus began a
life-long devotion to the investigation of this peculiar group of extinct
In 1928 he was awarded the Huxley Memorial Medal, and returned to
the Imperial College as a demonstrator, first in zoology, a year later in
geology. In 1931 he became university demonstrator in geology at
Cambridge. By this time publication of his Monograph of British
Dendroid Graptolites was well under way, and a year later came the
first of his papers on The Graptolites prepared by Holm. Based upon
the magnificent preparation of Swedish specimens which Gerhard Holm
had left unpublished, this work began a new era in the understanding of
these difficult fossils. The papers which followed gained much in clarity
from Bulman's very effective use of black and white pendrawings, in which
he displayed an artistic skill no doubt inherited from his father, Henry H.
On the retirement of Henry Woods, he was appointed lecturer in
palaeozoology at Cambridge, and in the same year (1934) joined R.H.
Rastall as an editor of the Geological Magazine.
|Oliver M. B. Bulman (1902-1974)
Authority on Graptolites
During the thirties, Schindewolf was editing his ambitious Handbuch
der PalĂ¤ozoologie, and invited Bulman to contribute the section on
Graptolithina. This was published in 1938, but unfortunately, the greater
part of the impressions was destroyed in Germany during the war. The few
available copies were much sought after, and the book has become a rare
collector's item in the literature of the subject. It has now been replaced by
similar monograph which he prepared for Raymond C. Moore's Treatise
on Invertebrate Paleontology, published in 1955 [2nd edition 1970].
With the threat of war in sight, Bulman enrolled as a special constable,
and later transferred to the Observer Corps, in which his special abilities
found a more rewarding outlet. In spare moments during the war years, he
collaborated with W.G. Fearnsides in writing a volume for Penguin Books,
entitled Geology in the Service of Man, which appeared in 1944, and
has been reprinted several times.
In 1940 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1945, a fellow
of Sidney Sussex College, and in the same year was appointed reader in
palaeozoology. In 1953 he was awarded the Lyell Medal of the
Geological Society of London.
On the retirement W.B.R. King in 1955, he was elected to the Woodwardian Professorship of Geology. During the tenure
of this office, he served as President of the Geological Society from 1962 to 1964, delivering addresses on the Evolution
and Classification of the Graptoloidea and on The Lower Palaeozoic Plankton.
After 10 years as head of his department, he found that the weigth of administrative work was absorbing an ever increasing
proportion of his time and energy, leaving little to spare for other activities such as research, which had always been his prime
interest. Finally, he decided the situation was becoming so intolerable that in 1966 he resigned from the chair, three years
before he was due to retire. He retained a room at the Sedgwick Museum, where he was able to continue his distinguished
researches in a much happier and relaxed frame of of mind.
He married Marguerite, daughter of Professor W.G. Fearnsides, in 1938. They had one son and three daughters.
|Source of the text: Times, Feb. 20, 1974
|100th Anniversary of Bulman's Birth
|Bulman's drawing, showing the holotype
of the Ordovician dendroid graptolite
Koremagraptus kozlowskii Bulman,
named in honour of
Professor Roman KozĹ‚owski.
From Bulman (1944), as a negative.