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The rise of Chinese palaeobotany, emphasizing the global context

Qi-Gao Sun
Qi-Gao Sun
Laboratory of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 20 Nanxincun, Xiangshan, Beijing 100093, P.R. China. (e-mail: or
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January 01, 2005


The record of fossil plants in China can date back to the year 1086 during the Chinese Song Dynasty. The subject of palaeobotany was transplanted into China in the early 20th century. The rise of Chinese palaeobotany had direct connections with the world. V.K. Ting played a major role in the establishment of academic organizations and English journals for Chinese geological sciences, which also received support from foreign experts. A geological approach for palaeotanical studies was once popular in China because of practical use. H.C. Sze is usually called ‘the founder of Chinese palaeobotany’. Sze was a disciple of W. Gothan and made a great contribution to the development of Chinese palaeobotany using a geological approach. Hu Hsen Hsü followed Asa Gray and thought that palaeobotany might be considered as a plant science subject. Hu’s study on Metasequoia enhanced his reputation: the discovery of the living plants of Metasequoia is believed to be one of the most important discoveries in the 20th century. Hsü Jen majored in plant morphology and anatomy, and obtained palaeobotanical training in Birbal Sahni’s laboratory in the 1940s. Hsü preferred to employ a biological approach to work on fossil plants.

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Geological Society, London, Special Publications

History of Palaeobotany: Selected Essays

A.J. Bowden
A.J. Bowden
National Museums Liverpool, UK
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C.V. Burek
C.V. Burek
University College, Chester, UK
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R. Wilding
R. Wilding
History of Geology Group, UK
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Geological Society of London
ISBN electronic:
Publication date:
January 01, 2005




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