Abstract

The acrimonious controversy between Sedgwick and Murchison with regard to the definition and boundaries of the Cambrian and Silurian systems in the mid-1800s is well known and documented. The claim by Sedgwick's biographers, never actually made by Sedgwick himself in print – that his study of the Magnesian Limestone Series (now Zechstein Group) of NE England should have had priority over Murchison's Russian work in the naming of what is now internationally recognized as the Permian System – suggests a possible additional cause of conflict between the parties that has been less considered. Though this claim has only limited substance, it is indicative of the ill-feeling felt against Murchison by some of Sedgwick's supporters several decades after the origins of the feud. It is now clear that the Zechstein rocks of England and Germany would have made an inadequate type area, but nevertheless the work of Sedgwick and his German contemporaries provided Murchison with many of the essentials he needed to establish the new system in Russia: help he might have been reluctant to acknowledge.

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