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Martin Glaessner’s foraminiferal micropalaeontology

Brian McGowran
Brian McGowran
Earth & Environmental Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide SA 5005 Australia (e-mail:
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January 01, 2013


Martin Glaessner (1906–1989) began publishing on fossil decapod crustaceans as a teenager, took doctorates in palaeontology and jurisprudence in Vienna, and developed his interest in foraminifera. Alpine tectonics was a central and lifelong theme. A second theme was economic geology. A third was organic evolution, and here it is important to note that, although the main evolutionary influence was Othenio Abel’s palaeobiology, Glaessner avoided the Germanic extremes such as typostrophism arising from transformational evolution, becoming instead a variational evolutionist, that is, a Darwinian. Foraminifera took him to Moscow to organize research pertaining to hydrocarbon exploration and development. An outstanding clutch of publications in the mid-1930s were both evolutionary-taxonomic and biostratigraphical, the latter including the most compelling of all pre-war publications on the planktonic foraminifera. In Port Moresby and Melbourne in the 1940s, amongst applied micropalaeontology, reviewing and synthesis, he produced Principles of Micropalaeontology. In the 1950s and 1960s in Adelaide he supervised research extending from Cenozoic to Cambrian and Neoproterozoic, foraminifera and crabs to trilobites and stromatolites, meanwhile making the transition himself from foraminifera to the Ediacarans. Combining meticulous attention to evidence and detail with wide-ranging enquiry, he was a forerunner of the modern disciplines and mindsets such as palaeoceanography and integreted biogeohistory.

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Figures & Tables


The Micropalaeontological Society, Special Publications

Landmarks in Foraminiferal Micropalaeontology: History and Development

A. J. Bowden
A. J. Bowden
National Museums Liverpool, UK
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F. J. Gregory
F. J. Gregory
PetroStrat Ltd, UK
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A. S. Henderson
A. S. Henderson
Robertson (UK) Ltd, UK
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Geological Society of London
ISBN electronic:
Publication date:
January 01, 2013




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