low riverside cliff, waterfall and pool in the Whiteadder known as Willie’s Hole was the location for an exceptional scientific breakthrough. It was here that the work of a tenacious self-taught fossil expert helped to solve the mystery of Romer’s Gap, a fifteen million year gap in the fossil record. Around 360 million years ago, tetrapods (backboned animals with four limbs) made the move from living in water to living on land – but no-one knew what evolutionary changes had occurred to make this possible.  

Stan Wood, a local, self-taught palaeontologist, and his friend and colleague Tim Smith sought fossil evidence at various sites across the Scottish Borders. Eventually, they discovered convincing evidence for tetrapods at Willie’s Hole. Their work there led to major excavations that uncovered evidence of a diverse range of tetrapods. You can read more about this via National Museums Scotland, who carried out work at Willie’s Hole in 2015. 

A river with hills in the background
The Whiteadder at Willie's Hole © cathietinn (cc-by-sa/2.0)