The history of palaeobotany in Argentina during the 19th century
The first records of fossil plants in Argentina were related to the visits of the naturalist-explorers Azara, d’Orbigny, Darwin, de Moussy, Burmeister and Bonpland during the 19th century. The settlement of Burmeister in Buenos Aires in 1862 fostered the arrival of foreign, mostly German, scientists to work in, or closely related to, the School of Sciences in Córdoba. Among them were Stelzner, Brackebusch, Doering, Zuber, Avé-Lallemant, Hautal, Berg, Kurtz and Bodenbender. Fossil plants they collected were studied in part in Europe by Geinitz, Conwentz and Szajnocha, but also received opportune comments by Schenck, Nathorst, Zeiller and Ward. The first Argentine scientists who quoted the presence of fossil plants were Moreno, Lista, Fontana and Aguirre. The record of Tertiary plant remains from Tierra del Fuego by the Romanian explorer Popper and the Swedish Nordenskjöld and Dusén completed the palaeobotanical studies in Argentina during the 19th century.
Figures & Tables
Often regarded as the ‘Cinderella’ of palaeontological studies, palaeobotany has a history that contains some fascinating insights into scientific endeavour, especially by palaeontologists who were perusing a personal interest rather than a career. The problems of maintaining research facilities in universities, especially in the modern era, are described and reveal a noticeable absence of a national UK strategy to preserve centres of excellence in an avowedly specialist area. Accounts of some of the pioneers demonstrate the importance of collaboration between taxonomists and illustrators. The importance of palaeobotany in the rise of geoconservation is outlined, as well as the significant and influential role of women in the discipline. Although this volume has a predominantly UK focus, two very interesting studies outline the history of palaeobotanical work in Argentina and China.