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What, if Anything, is Micropaleontology?

Jere H. Lipps
Paleobiology
Vol. 7, No. 2 (Spring, 1981), pp. 167-199
Published by: Paleontological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2400472
Page Count: 33
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What, if Anything, is Micropaleontology?
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Abstract

Micropaleontology is a peculiar subject: it is not easily defined, it focuses on geologic problems, and it ignores fundamental paleontologic and evolutionary questions it could best attack. As a result of its historic development, micropaleontology is directed to the solution of stratigraphic, paleoceanographic and paleoclimatologic problems, but it has seldom addressed paleobiologic or evolutionary ideas. It is a tradition rather than a discipline. The term "micropaleontology" and all it signifies should be abandoned, for it obscures natural relationships, attracts people with geologic rather than biologic approaches, isolates its practitioners in a blanket of systematics, biostratigraphies, and terminologies, and, as a result, discourages outsiders with other viewpoints or contributions from utilizing its fine fossil record. The growth of the field has been exponential in people-power and literature but not in the development of fundamentally new ideas. Micropaleontology has therefore contributed little to recent paleobiologic or evolutionary hypotheses, in spite of the possession by the many organisms relegated to it of biological properties and fossil records which have much potential for the generation and testing of such hypotheses. Microfossil studies have served geology powerfully and they should continue in that role, but they should also be used to fulfill their promise in the interpretation of paleobiogeography, paleoecology, morphology, evolutionary processes and the origin of new groups and ground plans.

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