60th Birtday of dr. Rudolf J. Prokop

Published in Casopis Narodniho muzea, Rada prirodovedna
163(1-4): 121-128. Praha 1994.

"You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough."

(William Blake)

Dr. Rudolf J. Prokop was born in Praha on July 25, 1934 and educated at the Geological-Geographical Faculty (at present part of the Faculty of Science), Charles University, Praha (1953-1958). He is currently a member of the Palaeontological Department, Museum of Natural History, National Museum, Praha.

Dr. Prokop's scientific interests include many aspects of biostratigraphy and palaeontology but he is widely recognized especially for his studies in taxonomy and biostratigraphy of Lower Palaeozoic echinoderms, the main concentration of his research. He has taken a long standing interest in the study of all echinoderm groups from many regions of the world (Europe, Africa, Asia and New Zealand), of course, with the main focus on the Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian and Devonian representatives in the Barrandian area (Bohemia, Czech Republic). Well over one hundred scientific papers (including two books, one of which translated into five languages!), articles and reviews (see the bibliography below) bear Dr. Prokop's name. The frequency with which he has collaborated with other palaeontologists (both in domestic and foreign scientific publications) and the scope of the subject matter covered is a tribute to the breadth of interests and undisputed erudition.

After briefly working as young Assistant of Prof. Boucek (Department of Geology of the Pedagogical High School, 1958-1959) and of Prof. R. Kettner (Department of Geology of the Charles University, 1959-1960) he embarked on the scientific career as a field geologist and research palaeontologist with the Geological Survey, Praha (now Czech Geological Survey) where he spent the first etape of his professional life (1960-1969). He obtained his prom. geol. degree after the study of mapping and biostratigraphy of the West Carpathian Mesozoic in 1958 and received his RNDr. doctoral degree in geology and the CSc. degree (dissertation on the Lower Palaeozoic crinoid family Calceocrinidae) in 1968. Curiously, from August 15 to October 13, 1969 he worked in the store of the beer factory "Prazan" at Praha-Holesovice (from political reasons) but already on November 1969 he joined the Palaeontological Department of the National Museum, Praha: fortunately for him and luckily for the National Museum, for ever.
Dr. R. J. Prokop travelled extensively abroad. After the invitation, the first foreign country he visited was Romania (1959), where, on the request of the University of Bucharest (Bucuresti), he had been engaged in geological mapping and in the study of Mesozoic stratigraphy of the Bucegi Mts. (central part of Transsylvanian Alps). In 1965 he took part in interesting actuo-palaeontological field investigations in Yugoslavia (Adriatic Sea) studying the island-blocked Kashtelan Bay area (N of Split) and the open sea area in surroundings of Bar. During the year 1967, as an expert of the geological section of UNESCO (under the patronage of the Egyptian government), he investigated the Nile Valley flood area of the Aswan Dam in Egypt and Sudan.  During the following two years, at the Max-Planck-Institut (Munchen, Germany), he had been engaged in the project of methods in the study of the preservation of crinoid skeletal elements in metamorphic rocks of various ages and presented a series of lectures concerned Palaeozoic echinoderms and Lower Palaeozoic biostratigraphy at the University of Munchen. In 1969, invited by the Institute of Oceanography at Marseilles, he became a participant in extensive geological research of the French coast of the Mediterranean Sea. In the long strip ranging from Marseilles to Saint Tropez (about 160 km) and in depths to about 36 m, with common diver's equipment, he had been interested in a wide variety of problems including the sea-floor geology, submarine mapping, current-velocity measuring, sediment biostratigraphy and actuo-palaeontology (in Monaco he met J.-Y. Cousteau!). In 1973 dr. Prokop was invited to expertize Jaekel's originals damaged during the World War II in the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universitat at Greifswald (Germany) where (and at the Humboldt-Universtat, Berlin, too) he presented a series of lectures devoted to Palaeozoic echinoderms. Next year he took part in the palaeontological expedition of the National Museum to the North Africa, visiting Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, being interested namely in the Lower Palaeozoic sections of central and southern parts of the Sahara, particularly in the Siluro-Devonian boundary beds from which he derived very important material. In 1977, by cultural agreement, he travelled to India giving his lectures in several universities and geological institutes at New Delhi, Chandigarh (Panjab University), Varanasi (Hindu University), Calcutta (Geological Survey), Madras, Cochin, and Bombay, while studying the Lower Palaeozoic sections in the regions of Nanga Parbat and Chandigarh-Simla (Himalaya). In the next year he participated in the session of the International Subcommission on Devonian Stratigraphy held at Samarkand (1978) followed by interesting excursions into the Alaian Tien-Shan, particularly into the Bursyk-Hirman Mountain Belt, where he helped (on the request of the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences U.S.S.R.) with the selection and definition of the Devonian parastratotypes (especially in the Lower-Middle Devonian boundary interval). After the invitation of the British Council, in 1979, he arrived in Great Britain, spending most of the time in Wales and western Scotland, being interested namely in the comparative studies of echinoderms. In Liverpool he presented a further series of lectures on echinoderms and on the Palaeozoic biostratigraphy. In 1984 he served as a member of the Czech delegation on the International Geological Congress at Moscow (Moskva) and as a participant in the expedition into the Silurian and Devonian of the Little and High Caucasus.

Well-documented is dr. Prokop's international recognition. In 1964 he has been elected an external member of the Oklahoma Geological Survey (Norman, U.S.A.). In 1972 he was elected a member of the doctoral committee for examining of PhD dissertations in the Centre of Advanced Study in Geology, Panjab University at Chandigarh (India) where he received (1978) also the degree External Professor. In 1977 he became a member of the doctoral committee of the Palaeontological Institute of theLomonosov University at Moscow and next year also an external member of the Scientific Board of the Palaeontological Institute of the Academy of Sciences at Novosibirsk (U.S.S.R.). From 1979 he is a member of the Editorial Board of "Himalayan Geology" (published by the Geological Survey of India). In 1983 he became an external member of the MAPS (Middle American Paleontological Society) at Iowa.
In the Czech Republic Dr. Prokop was and is engaged in various activities from which it is possible to mention only those most important. He chairs the Scientific Board of the National Museum, Praha, serves as a Deputy Chief of the Palaeontological Department of the National Museum (Museum of Natural History), Praha, as a member of the Scientific Board of the Czech Institute for Nature Conservation, Praha, member of the Committee of the Palaeontological Section of the Czech Geological Society, Praha, and becomes a member of the Editorial Board of the journal Sbornik Narodniho muzea (Acta Musei Nationalis Pragae), R. B and of Acta Universitatis Carolinae - Geologica. He is also active in directing and evaluating of academic dissertations and was a former member of the Advisory Council of the Ministry of Culture and was (also previously) a Co-ordinator of the State Program between the National Museum and of the former Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences.

For excellent results in the research of Lower Palaeozoic, the Joachim Barrande's Medal was presented to him in 1984 and in 1988 he received a Czech Literary Fund Award for the article (with co-author): Marhoumacrinus legrandi, gen. et sp. n. (Crinoidea, Camerata) from Upper Silurian-Lowermost Devonian of Algeria (in: Sbornik Narodniho Muzea, R. B, 43 (1), Praha 1987). Finally, In 1990 the Prace Publishing House distinguished him with the Book of the Year Award (in the field of scientific education) for the book "Zkamenely svet" ("Petrified World", a Czech book on the fauna from ancient seas of the Bohemian and Moravian Palaeozoic, issued in 1989, Prace, Kotva Edition).

This is only a brief and oversimplified collage of the scientific trajectory of dr. R. J. Prokop from the National Museum, Praha. It is an honour and a pleasure for me to express our thanks for his work. Best wishes, Rudolf, for your 60th Birthday (July 25, 1994)!

Vaclav Petr
An updated complete bibliography of Rudolf J. Prokop

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