Most paleontological papers fall into one of three categories: catalogues, biostratigraphic investigations, and paleobiologic studies. Although each category represents a useful purpose and a particular method of investigation, it becomes increasingly evident as the literature develops and the fields of investigation widen that more emphasis must be placed on the paleobiologic method. Linné was a genius, but some may hold that science is still suffering from his enforced adherence to the catalogue system. Cuvier failed to appreciate the continuity of life, due to his rigid stratigraphic method. On the other hand, it was Darwin’s appreciation of the space and time factors that played an important part in the development of the evolutionary theory.
There is no denying the great value of the cataloguer. He reduces the masses of information to usable form, makes obscure references accessible, and unravels tangles of nomenclature. But he seldom has an opportunity to examine the specimens listed in his compilations, and by his method he is precluded from verifying his data or from exercising suitable scientific judgment in regard to them.
It is obvious that the stratigraphic system of classification of fossils is the natural one for a paleontologist to adopt, because of his intimate associations with geologists. However, having completed the necessary work; of chronologically arranging his specimens, he is all too often constrained by his method to stretch admittedly inadequate information over too wide a field, to equate a comprehensive knowledge of the representatives of one phylum with a superficial knowledge of those . . .