Dr John Jagt, staff member of the Natuurhistorisch Museum Maastricht (a municipal museum) since January 1991, considers himself to be something of an anachronism – a truly nineteenth-century natural scientist living in the twenty-first! Following his PhD defence (entitled “Late Cretaceous-Early Palaeogene echinoderms and the K/T boundary in the southeast Netherlands and northeast Belgium”) at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in May 2000, he became curator of Cretaceous palaeontology, with the type Maastrichtian in his own backyard, so to speak. The dissertation was published, in six parts, in the journal Scripta Geologica (Leiden), totalling 832 pages. In it, numerous new genera and species of crinoids, echinoids, ophiuroids and asteroids were erected, and a final chapter considered the impact of the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K/Pg) boundary perturbations on these assemblages.
From the mid-1980s, John has co-operated closely with Dr René Fraaije (Oertijdmuseum, Boxtel), and this has resulted in numerous scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals. At a later moment, Barry van Bakel joined the ranks, and the output of our ‘triumvirate’ nearly tripled – lots of new material is now being written up, including many an eye opener …
Being a member of the afdeling Limburg of the Nederlandse Geologische Vereniging, John has always worked closely together with private collectors (from all walks of life and ages), who consider the Maastricht museum to be their ‘second home’. They take pride in collecting, preparing and photographing Late Cretaceous fossils in the wider vicinity of Maastricht, and do not mind to part with their material should this prove to involve undescribed species. Many of these collectors already have new taxa (genera, species) named after them, or have co-authored scientific papers. The museum collections of both invertebrates and vertebrates from the type area of the Maastrichtian Stage have grown steadily ever since and the end is not yet in sight – fortunately!
Over the years, either by himself or with co-workers, John has described 58 new genera (mostly echinoderms and decapod crustaceans, but also a new mammal) and nearly 200 new species, as well as four families, one superfamily and two subfamilies. In all, and inclusive of book reviews, abstracts for workshops and symposia, comments and other texts in the ‘grey literature’, he has authored in excess of 800 papers. In addition, his peers have named 16 species and one family in his honour.
Standing on the shoulders of such illustrious 19th century collectors as Joseph (de) Bosquet, Johannes-Theodorus Binkhorst van den Binkhorst and Casimir Ubaghs, and with the benefit of having worked closely together with the late Werner M. Felder and his brother Sjeuf Felder, John has been able to ‘eat it all’ …. With a keen interest in all kinds of macrofossils, ranging from brachiopods to bivalves, and from gastropods to crabs and lobsters and ichnofossils, and a willingness to share his observations with both his peers and the public at large, this has now led to a huge data set. During the coming years, this will – at least in part – be published in the journal Staringia, issued by the Nederlandse Geologische Vereniging.
With honorary curator Dr Eric Mulder, John has also entered into close co-operation with Maastricht University (Science Programme) and RWTH (Aachen), providing lectures at the museum, doing fieldwork with students and in overseeing and grading collection-based projects in small groups of students. There are also ties with universities in Poland, Russia (through his wife and fellow palaeontologist, Dr hab. Elena Yazykova), Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Portugal, leading to multi-authored contributions and fieldwork in those countries on a regular basis.
John has been an Assistant Editor of Cretaceous Research for many years, and a member of the editorial team of various international palaeontological journals, such as Palaeontology and Special Papers in Palaeontology and Acta Geologica Polonica.