Studies in Fossil Botany


IN the preface 'to the first edition of his "Studies,"Dr. Scott stated that his object was not to write a manual of fossil botany, but to present to the reader "those results of palseo-botanical inquiry which appear to be of fundamental importance from the botanist's point of view."The fact that the third edition of vol. i., which deals with the Pteridophyta, needed as thorough a revision as the second edition shows that recent palaeobotanical research has not been barren of results. "The only direct evidence which is possible in questions of descent among plants is from the ancient plants themselves."The interpretation of the evidence is the difficulty; not only did many of the types preserved in the rich plant-bearing beds of the Carboniferous period greatly exceed in size their modern representatives, but they were also more complex in structure. Generalised or synthetic types are common enough, and the inference is usually drawn that these extinct genera indicate the common origin of groups or families now comparatively remote; ancestral stocks are imagined, not discovered. Even the oldest known land plants, though in some respects simpler than those which followed them, appear to be far advanced in their anatomical differentiation, and the mechanism of the plant machine is essentially similar to that of existing plants.

Studies in Fossil Botany.

By Dr. Dukinfield H. Scott. Third edition. Vol. i. Pteridophyta. Pp. xxiii + 434. (London: A. and C. Black, Ltd., 1920.) 25s. net.

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SEWARD, A. Studies in Fossil Botany. Nature 107, 197–198 (1921).

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