Ellis William Shuler

Dr. Ellis William Shuler was one of the dozen or so scholar-educators who composed SMU’s original faculty. Ellis Shuler was born Oct. 15, 1881, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, near the small settlement of Corners Rock.

Ellis W ShulerIn 1899, Shuler attended Emory & Henry College in Emory, Virginia, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences in 1904. He received a Master of Arts degree in English from Vanderbilt University in 1907. After a one-year appointment teaching biology at Vanderbilt, Shuler took a permanent position as professor of biology and geology at Polytechnic College in Fort Worth. In 1913, Shuler left Polytechnic to pursue graduate work at Harvard University, where he was awarded a Master of Arts degree in geology in 1914 and a PhD in 1915. Although Shuler was broadly educated in geology, his primary research interest was geomorphology. His dissertation work on the New River in the central Appalachians was conducted under the guidance of William Morris Davis, one of the preminent geologists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

In 1915, shortly after he completed his PhD, Shuler was hired by SMU’s founding President Robert S. Hyer as an Associate Professor of Geology. Before Shuler left for his new position at SMU, Dr. Davis, his former doctoral advisor, gave him a major portion of his personal library and persuaded Harvard to give Shuler all of the duplicate holdings in its geological library. Consequently, when Shuler arrived at SMU, he brought with him the beginnings of what has become one of the outstanding geological libraries in North America. During his tenure at SMU, Shuler taught courses in all the fields of geology, including paleontology. Shuler was made Professor of Geology in 1918 and two years later was inducted as a fellow in the Geological Society of America in recognition of his academic contributions. In 1926, Shuler became Dean of the Graduate School, a position he held, along with his professorship, until his retirement in 1953 after 37 years of service to SMU. Shuler was the last of the original 35 professors to leave the university. He died in 1954 at the age of 72.

When Thomas E. Williams, a fusulinid specialist, joined the SMU faculty in the early 1960’s, he realized the opportunity that the collections afforded to build a stronger paleontology program and proposed that the collections be named the Ellis W. Shuler Museum of Paleontology. Due to the efforts of Williams, Bob Slaughter, and the current faculty, the Shuler Museum has continued to expand its collections and increase its international recognition as a center for cutting-edge research.


The Museum

The Shuler Museum maintains research and teaching collections of microfossils, fossil invertebrates, fossil plants, and recent and fossil vertebrates. Active areas of research involve Mesozoic and Cenozoic vertebrates, plant macrofossils, and palynology.

The vertebrate paleontology collections in the Shuler Museum emphasize the Mesozoic and Cenozoic of Texas, and the Mesozoic of the southwestern United States. SMU personnel maintain active field research programs in paleontology across the world, including research in Alaska, Angola, Antarctica, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, Mozambique, Pakistan, Portugal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Yemen. Among the 48 vertebrate type specimens housed in the Shuler Museum are the Cretaceous plesiosaur Libonectes (Elasmosaurus) morgani Welles, the ornithopod dinosaur Protohadros byrdi Head, mammals Pappotherium pattersoni and Holoclemensia texana Slaughter, and the Pleistocene pronghorn Tetrameryx shuleri Lull. The state dinosaur of Texas, Paluxysaurus jonesi Rose, was prepared and studied at the Shuler Museum and is now on display at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.

Specimens from the Shuler Museum are displayed at several public museums in the DFW area, including the Museum of Nature & Science, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, and the Heard Natural Science Museum. Dinosaur specimens collected by Shuler Museum personel are highlighted in the book “Lone Star Dinosaurs” by Dr. Louis L. Jacobs, which features the artwork of Karen Carr.


Selected Publications by Ellis W. Shuler

Shuler, E. W. 1915. A new Ordovician eurypterid. American Journal of Science 4(39): 551–554.

Shuler, E. W. 1917. Dinosaur tracks in the Glen Rose Limestone near Glen Rose, Texas. American Journal of Science 44(262): 33–37.

Shuler, E. W. 1917. The geology of Camp Bowie and vicinity. University of Texas Bulletin 1750: 1–14.

Shuler, E. W. 1918. The geology of Dallas County. University of Texas Bulletin 1818:1–54.

Shuler, E. W. 1918. An intermittent siphon in nature. Scientific American 119: 131.

Shuler, E. W. 1923. Occurrence of human remains with Pleistocene fossils, Lagow Sand Pit, Dallas, Texas. Science 57: 333–334.

Shuler, E. W. 1929. Undergraduate preparation for the geologist. American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin 13: 1317–1321.

Shuler, E. W. 1930. Rise down the canyon. Scientific Monthly 31:129–133.

Shuler, E. W. 1933. Frequency of vertebrate fossils in river deposits. Science 77:368–369. PDF

Shuler, E. W. and Millican, O. M. 1932. Lingual deposition in the Woodbine sands along Copperas Branch, Denton County, Texas: a study in marine sedimentation. Field & Laboratory 1: 15–21.

Shuler, E. W. 1934. Type collection of the writings of Robert T. Hill. Field & Laboratory 2(2): 61–63.

Shuler, E. W. 1934. Collecting fossil elephants at Dallas, Texas. Texas Archaeological & Paleontological Society Bulletin 6: 75–79. (reprinted 1934, Field & Laboratory 3: 24–29).

Shuler, E. W. 1935. Dinosaur tracks mounted in the Band Stand at Glen Rose, Texas. Field & Laboratory 4: 9–13.

Shuler, E. W. 1935. Terraces of the Trinity River, Dallas County, Texas. Field & Laboratory 3: 44–53.

Shuler, E. W. 1936. Influence of the shoreline, rivers and springs on the settlement and early development of Texas. Field & Laboratory 5: 23–32. (reprinted as No. 22; reprinted 1941, The Texas Geographic Magazine 4: 26–31).

Shuler, E. W. 1937. Dinosaur tracks at the fourth crossing of the Paluxy River near Glen Rose, Texas. Field & Laboratory 5(2): 102–107.

Shuler, E. W. 1942. Hill’s mountain. Field & Laboratory 10:150–152.

Shuler, E. W. and Witter, R. V. 1942. The mounted skeleton of Edaphosaurus boanerges Romer at Southern Methodist University. Field & Laboratory 10:141–144.

Shuler, E. W. 1950. A new elasmosaur from the Eagle Ford Shale of Texas. Part II. The elasmosaur and its environment. Fondren Science Series 1(2): 1–32.