David Raup, Famed Paleontologist Dies at the Age of 82

Photo: Chicago Sun-Times

Photo: Chicago Sun-Times

David Raup a famed paleontologist died of pneumonia  on July 9, 2015. He was 82. Raup first noticed that mass extinctions are cyclic and occur every 26 million years. His still unproved theory, suggests that these mass extinction events are caused by comet or asteroid impacts. Raup, along with colleague Jack Sepkoski, also suggested that there are two components to mass extinctions, a slowly declining background rate, highlighted by a punctuated mass die off.

David Raup authored two books: The Nemesis Affair: A Story of the Death of the Dinosaurs and the Ways of Science and Extinction: Bad Genes or Bad Luck?  He also co-authored the textbook Principles of Paleontology, which was a staple in the academic community.

Raup earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago in 1953 and his PhD from Harvard in 1957. He taught at California Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, University of Rochester, and at University of Chicago where he eventually served as the department head of geophysical sciences.