Historical Notes

E. Lhwyd provided the first record of trilobites in the literature in 1698, with the publication of plates depicting two Welch trilobites, identified as fish. In 1771, J. I. Walch originated the use of the name "trilobite" as a distinct class of animal. L. D. Herrmann, however, used the term triJobus as part of the name for a trilobite fossil, as early as 1711. (For the very early trilobite references, see the publications by H. Burmeister (1843, 1846).)

In 1822, C. Stokes was the first to describe North American trilobites, with Asaphus (now IsoteJus) pJatycephaJus from Canada. J. E. DeKay provided the first unequivocal description of a New York trilobite, IsoteJus gigas from Trenton Falls (north of Utica, New York), in 1824. This report was followed by that of Arctinurus boJtoni by Bigsby in 1825. Qf the 40 trilobites described in the classic works by the Philadelphia physician J. Green in 1832 and 1835, most were from New York.

New York State took an early leadership role in North American Paleozoic invertebrate paleontology, in part due to the number of lower Paleozoic exposures within the state and also to the history of the state itself. The early 1800s saw a general expansion westward within the United States. New York participated both by pressing settlement into the rich farmlands of western New York and by aggressively seeking to become the communication route to the nation's Midwest. Roads, canals, and permanent construction were all part of these goals, and all needed building stone to succeed. Limestone was the ideal material both for buildings and for the cement and mortar to hold them together. Thus, small and large limestone quarries became common along the Hudson-Mohawk River corridor. The state government also was concerned about its knowledge of the natural treasures contained within its borders. In 1818 the

Lyceum of Natural History of New York was established in New York City, and in 1823 the Albany Lyceum of Natural History was founded. IsoteJus gigas was described in the Journal of the Lyceum of Natural History (New York). The IsoteJus fossils from the Trenton Limestone of central New York, particularly Trenton Falls, were long known and collected for sale by the local residents and became part of many early natural history collections. The Arctinurus specimen described by Bigsby was first found during the digging of the Erie Canal locks in what is now Lockport, New York.

In 1836, New York began a general natural history survey of the state, including its geology and mineralogy, and at the same time formed the New York Geological Survey. That same year the first state paleontologist was named, T. A. Conrad, a Philadelphia conchologist.

For the geological survey the state was divided into four districts, and the results from each district were published as separate volumes. Starting in 1842, the first of these was published. The GeoJogy of the Fourth District of New York (1843) was the beginning of the career of New York's second and most well-known state paleontologist, James Hall. Hall was also the principal author of the eight-volume PaJaeontoJogy of New York, issued between 1847 and 1894. Volumes 1, 2, 3, and 7 (written with J. M. Clarke) contain significant trilobite information and are the primary references for early trilobite work in New York. Hall had a number of assistants who began their careers with him: F. B. Meek, F. V. Hayden (future director of the United States Geological Survey), C. A. White (future state paleontologist for Iowa), W. A. Gabb, R. P. Whitfield, C. Calloway, C. D. Walcott (future director of the United States Geological Survey and the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution), C. E. Beecher (future professor at Yale University), and J. M. Clarke (future state paleontologist for New York). Hall was a difficult man to work with and consequently had a high turnover in assistants. It is claimed that Hall took on some of his assistants to gain access to their personal fossil collections (Yochelson, 1987).

The turn of the century introduced additional important contributors to the knowledge of New York trilobites, such as R. Ruedemann and P. Raymond. By the early twentieth century, New York was no longer a major area for new trilobite discoveries, as the focus had shifted westward with the general expansion of the United States. However, significant contributions are still made today, for example, in the understanding of some less well-described areas such as the Middle Ordovician Chazy Group and the Cambrian in eastern New York. The general shift in emphasis from discovery to understanding still keeps New York trilo-bites in the limelight. In later chapters we will point out the importance of New York trilobite beds in our understanding of trilobite biology and fossil preservation.

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