The past half century has witnessed an enormous expansion in the field of vertebrate paleontology. Greatly increased has been our knowledge of the number and variety of fossil forms, of their structure and phylogeny, and of their geological and geographical distribution.
The greater part of this advance, however, has been accomplished in the more recent decades of the period under discussion; the year 1888, in which the Geological Society was founded, marks neither the beginning nor end of an epoch. The science was not then new; Cuvier, the founder, had been half a century in the grave, and the great figures of the generation which succeeded him (such as Agassiz, Von Meyer, Gaudry, Owen, Huxley) were already disappearing from the scene. The general acceptance of the evolutionary theory had given new point to paleontological work, but this stimulus had been applied many years before, and the science was not in a phase of change or expansion during the 1880's.
Workers were few then, and publications far from numerous. A count of the papers contributing particularly to this field which were reviewed 50 years ago in that classic bibliographic aid, the Neues Jahrbuch, gives a total of about 100 per annum; the workers publishing in any one year would have numbered only 30 to 40. Most of the men concerned were Europeans; there were few American contributions, and there was almost none from other continents. Germany was unquestionably the leader in the field; about half the work then being done was
Figures & Tables
Published in celebration of the Geological Society of America’s 50th anniversary, this 578-page volume presents the progress in geology from 1888 to 1938. Written to serve as a comprehensive summary, both for the generalist and the specialist, it explores the fundamental fields of geology, including physiography, glacial geology, oceanography, invertebrate paleontology, vertebrate paleontology, prehistoric archeology, paleobotany, stratigraphy, sedimentation, structural geology, pre-Cambrian, mineralogy, petrology, volcanology, geochemistry, general geophysics, seismology, ore deposits, petroleum geology, exploratory geophysics, and engineering geology.