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IGCP 328: Palaeozoic Microvertebrates final scientific report -- Introduction
& Susan TURNER
[extract of paper ; includ. main text and one figure ; exclud. references and appendix]
Short historical background
Work on Palaeozoic and younger fish microfossils (now called variously microvertebrates or ichthyoliths) is still
in its infancy. Although even AGASSIZ (1833-1844 a-b) studied microscopic fish remains, e.g. " DiplodusILLIAMSON minutus" , Ctenoptychius in the 5-10mm range, it was not until the advent of better microscopes in the late 19th and 20th centuries that systematic studies truly got under way. Early work especially into histological characteristics was developed by W (e.g., 1849) and MCCOY (1853). However, the first notableANDER contribution by one who might be regarded as the father of microichthyology was Christian P who withOEMER his prophetic work on conodonts and fish in 1856 set the standard for later works into both groups. There followed useful work including investigations by R (1885), RÖSE (1898), and ROHON (1890, 1893) in theGASSIZ's student, Orestes St. J OHN Old World. In the Americas, A and his amateur, turned professional, colleagueORTHEN Amos Henry W contributed significantly in the second half of the 19th century (e.g., St. JOHN &ORTHEN W 1875).ROTZEN
The first half of the 20th century saw major contributions on particularly thelodont and acanthodian scales by B (1934 a-b), HOPPE (1931), LEHMAN (1937) and especially Walter GROSS (1935, 1938). In NorthUSSAKOF America, basic research on other microremains was begun by H & BRYANT (1918), Harold C. STETSON (1928, 1931), and John WELLS (1944). After the Second World War GROSS and Tor ØRVIG set the standard forROSS morphological and histological research approaches which have become the basis for our studies (G 1947-RVIG 1973, Ø 1957-1980). In North America Robert DENISON began a research programme, sadly mostlyENISON unpublished, to extract microremains from rocks in the USA and Canada (e.g., D 1956, 1967, FieldANVIER Museum collection). A new generation of students following them considered the biostratigraphical importance of the microremains in more detail, and mirroring some of the style of the conodont work of the 1930s began to look at associated assemblages and to employ element taxonomies. Introduction of the use of the Scanning Electron Microscope in the late 1960s, the first use of which on fossil fish tissues J (1996a) ascribed toROSS G (1968c), was quickly taken up for studies on thelodont and shark scales and teeth (e.g., TURNER 1973,NTIA A & WHITAKER 1978, KARATAJUTE-TALIMAA 1978). SEM work has revolutionised the way we regard theOYLE microornament and ultrastructures of microvertebrate material and thus increased the number of characters we can use in defining and relating taxa. The traditional binomial system or open nomenclature has become the preferred methodology compared to that espoused by later "stratignathers" working mainly but not wholly on Tertiary remains (e.g., D et al. 1974, TWAY 1979), who employed a descriptor or coded taxonomy.