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Abstract

It is extremely interesting to endeavor to visualize the status of Paleobotany at the time that The Geological Society of America was organized. Most of the leaders which the present generation of paleobotanists know only by name, those who may justly be called the inaugurators of the modern era, were still living, and many remained active for many years.

Of that great trio of nineteenth century continental students of leaf impressions, Heer (1809–1883), Ettingshausen (1826–1897), and Saporta (1823–1895), only the first had passed on although the other two were inactive. Of those great figures who approached fossil plants from the strictly morphological botanical point of view, Renault (1836–1904) had but 6, and Solms–Laubach (1842–1915) had 27 years of life left, whereas the incomparably greater Scott (1854–1934) was to continue his contributions to his chosen field for 46 years. Grand’Eury (1839–1917) who knew Carboniferous plants in the field to a greater degree than any of his contemporaries and whom we would probably call in present day parlance a paleoecologist was to continue his labors for 27 years, and Nathorst (1850–1921) who combined talents as a geologist, stratigrapher, and morphologist was to go on for 33 years, to be elected a Correspondent of our society, and to perfect methods for the study of cuticles and other refractory objects usually classed as impressions.

Since a knowledge of organisms consists largely in a knowledge of their relationships, the first steps are attempts at a methodical classification which needs to be more than methodical and should approximate their true or natural relationships.

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