Cochliodonts and chimaeroids: Arthur Smith Woodward and the holocephalians
Christopher J. Duffin, 2016. "Cochliodonts and chimaeroids: Arthur Smith Woodward and the holocephalians", Arthur Smith Woodward: His Life and Influence on Modern Vertebrate Palaeontology, Z. Johanson, P. M. Barrett, M. Richter, M. Smith
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Fossil chondrichthyan teeth played an important part in the establishment of a scientific understanding of ‘formed stones’. Following a slowly emerging taxonomy, Louis Agassiz presented the first comprehensive guide to Palaeozoic chondrichthyans in the 1830s. The next contribution of any substance was Arthur Smith Woodward’s Catalogue of Fossil Fishes in the British Museum (Natural History) with a historical, descriptive and systematic review of the chondrichthyans, a group on which he already had an impressively large publication record. Initially stimulated by his observations on an articulated petalodont dentition (Climaxodus), Smith Woodward erected the Bradyodonti in 1921. Defined on the possession of dentitions with very slow growth rates, only seven or eight successional teeth produced throughout the lifetime of the fish, and retention rather than shedding of earlier teeth, primarily by fusion to later ones, the bradyodonts embraced petalodonts, psammodonts, copodonts and cochliodonts. The establishment and subsequent demise of the bradyodonts is briefly reviewed here.
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Arthur Smith Woodward was the Natural History Museum’s longest-serving Keeper of Geology and the world’s leading expert on fossil fish. He was also an unwitting victim of the Piltdown fraud, which overshadowed his important scientific contributions. The aim of this book is to honour Smith Woodward’s contributions to vertebrate palaeontology, discuss their relevance today and provide insights into the factors that made him such an eminent scientist. The last few years have seen a resurgence in fossil vertebrate (particularly fish) palaeontology, including new techniques for the ‘virtual’ study of fossils (synchrotron and micro CT-scanning) and new research foci, such as ‘Evo-Devo’ – combining fossils with the development of living animals. This new research is built on a strong foundation, like that provided by Smith Woodward’s work. This collection of papers, authored by some of the leading experts in their fields, covers the many facets of Smith Woodward’s life, legacy and career. It will be a benchmark for studies on one of the leading vertebrate palaeontologists of his generation.