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This publication is not deemed to be valid for taxonomic purposes [see Article 8b in the International Code of Zoological
Nomenclature 3rd Edition (1985), eds W.D. Ride et al.].


This issue is the first in which I have had to have a co-editor - Dr Andrew Simpson from Macquarie University joined me in 1999. It has been over 18 months since I produced the last issue - partly this was necessitated by my 6 months sojourn overseas teaching at the University of Hannover which took up most of a year in preparation and returning to "normal", and partly from the necessity for me to concentrate on my own research. Please write if you feel I have "lost" any news you were hoping to see in this issue AND if you feel that the Issues is still a useful mode of disseminating information and ideas. Reports, references, and important news about meetings continue to be found on our website and others. If you do not have access to the internet please contact me if you need reference lists etc. To save space I have sent the full 1998 and 1999 reports to our web page.

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IGCP 406: Circum Arctic Paleozoic Vertebrates met successfully in late September-early October 1999 in Latvia hosted by Dr Ervins Luksevics in conjunction with the 4th Baltic Stratigraphical Conference. Special Publication no. 5 resulted. May 2000 saw the 9thEarly/Lower Vertebrates Symposium conjoined with IGCP 406 at Flagstaff, Arizona is a most successful event hosted by Prof. David Elliott and his team at the University of Northern Arizona Geology Department. The Final IGCP 406 field meeting and symposium will take place in July 2000 at Syktyvkar, Timan- Pechora Province, Russia. Consult below and the WWW site for information regarding the future meetings.

The cut-backs and retrenchments continue. In Australia the national survey, A.G.S.O., shed more of its former palaeontological unit and apparently intend to employ palaentologists only on a contract basis. I was dismayed to meet palaeontologists in Germany, young and relatively old alike, with full professorial qualifications who did not have a permanent job and so were leaving the profession. Professor H-G. Herbig of University of Cologne, President of the German Palaeontological Association, was compiling a report on the status of palaeontologists in universities and other institutions. With such basic information groups can begin lobbying to retain palaeontological positions especially to counter the pervading "myth" I have heard again and again that palaeontology is not interesting, "relevant" or useful. At the same time Germany has one of the most active networks of amateur palaeontologists and dealers/collectors. Some of the latter can create problems within our field. Because of the past and the often unscrupulous collecting of specimens, many countries (e.g. Australia and Kenya) now have strong laws preventing the removal of cultural heritage which can include fossils. Whether we are professional or amateur we have a duty to make sure when we collect that we have permission and any relevant documentation (permits etc.) before we remove fossils just as individuals and institutions must make sure they are not in possession of "stolen goods". Even in recent times there have been blatant lapses of good practice and private landowners have become disenchanted with the plundering of their land. They in turn then deny access to key sites to bona fideworkers as is happening at some important Scottish sites.

Some of you will know that IGCP Secretary-General, Dr Vladislav Babuskacompleted his term at UNESCO in Paris in 1999. I for one would like to put on record the immense help Dr Babuska has given to our IGCP project work on fish microfossils over the past 6 years. We wish him well in his future endeavours back in the Czech Republic.