Cahide (Ünsalaner) Kırağlı (1914-2009)

Palaeontologist who worked for the Turkish Geological Survey, and received the first PhD awarded to a female geologist by the University of Bristol.

Cahide Kırağlı (née Ünsalaner) was born in Istanbul and graduated in 1946. Soon after, she was employed by the Turkish Institute of Mineral Research and Exploration (Maden Tetkik ve Arama Enstitüsü or MTA). The MTA sent her to the University of Bristol where she earned her doctoral degree in 1949 with her thesis on  ‘Some Upper Devonian Corals, Stromatoporoids and Bryozoa from South Anatolia’, supervised by Stanley Smith (title page, see left).

Ünsalaner had collected her fossils in 1943, and began the work in Ankara in 1943, and continued the work in Britain after the end of the Second World War in 1945. She worked in Bristol between January 1947 and May 1949, also visiting the British Museum (Natural History) during the summer vacations, where she compared her collections from Turkey with materials from the UK and elsewhere. She thanks Mr I. Ruki Berent, Director General of the MTA “for affording her the facilities for studying this [collection] in England,” as well as Dr M. Blumenthal who had worked in Anatolia for supplying specimens. She thanks Professor W.F. Whittard and Mr W.N. Edwards for enabling her work in Bristol and London respectively, Dr Stanley Smith for supervising and advising, and Dr H. Dighton Thomas “for his guidance and great help on the difficulties which were faced during this work.” Henry Dighton Thomas (1900-1966) was the coral expert at the BMNH and collaborated with Stanley Smith. Finally, Cahide Ünsalaner thanks Gweorge Bryant for preparing her thin sections, Mr E.W. Deavill for photography, and Mr R.J. Rowbotham for help in the Geological Library at the BMNH. She published her PhD thesis as Ünsalaner (1951).

Cahide Ünsalaner returned to continue working for the MTA until her retirement in 1980, working especially for the petroleum exploration division. Sarigül (2021) reproduces a series of professional photographs taken in the early 1950s of the MTA staff, showing the large numbers of female employees. Other photographs in that paper show Cahide Kırağlı among other MTA palaeontologists during petroleum exploration field work in southeastern Anatolia.

Right. Ten palaeontologists from the MTA photographed in the early 1950s, with Cahide Kırağlı third from the left in the back row. There only appears to be space on the bench for the men.

Cahide Kırağlı spent some months at the University of Münster in 1963, but otherwise worked almost entirely in Turkey. She published a number of papers on Palaeozoic palaeontology of Turkey, generally using her maiden name Ünsalaner (e.g. Ünsalaner 1941, 1945, 1951; Ünsalaner- Kırağlı 1958). She was one of the four founders of the Geological Society of Turkey in 1946, and she served on the board of the Natural History Museum of the MTA which opened in 1968. A brachiopod, Spinella kiraglii, was named after her by Vandercammen (1964), a Belgian expert to whom she had sent some specimens for identification.

Read more

Sarigül, V. 2021. A short history of paleontology in Turkey, Part II: Paleontology in the Republic of Turkey. Earth Sciences History 40, 202–243. Read this paper here.

Ünsalaner, C. 1941 Garbî Toroslarda ilk defa bulunan Devon ve Karbon arazisi fosillerinin tetkiki [A preliminary description of the Carboniferous and Devonian fauna discovered in the Western Taurus]. Bulletin of the Mineral Research and Exploration 25, 594–603 [in Turkish and English]. Read this paper here.

Ünsalaner, C. 1945. Alaylıdağ ve Beydağ sıradağları arasındaki bölgenin Üst Devon faunası [The Upper Devonian fauna of the region between Alaylıdağ and Beydağ chains]. Bulletin of the Mineral Research and Exploration 34, 401–406 [in Turkish and English].

Ünsalaner, C. 1951. Some Upper Devonian corals and stromatoporoids from South Anatolia [Güney Anadolunun bazı Üst Devon koral ve stromatoporoidleri hakkında]. Bulletin of the Geological Society of Turkey 3(1), 131–146 [in English with Turkish abstract]. Read this paper here.

Ünsalaner-Kırağlı, C. 1958a. Lower Carboniferous corals from Turkey. Journal of the Palaeontological Society of India 3, 53–58.

Ünsalaner-Kırağlı, C. 1958b. Alveolites lemniscus Smith from the Upper Silurian of Sedef Adasi (Antirovitha) with remarks on the genera Roseoporella and KitakamiiaBulletin of the Mineral Research and Exploration 50, 83-86. Read this paper here.

Vandercammen, A. 1964. Spinella kiraglii nov sp. (Brachiopoda – Spiriferidae). Bulletin of the Mineral Research and Exploration 62, 125-134 [in French]. Read this paper here.