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Classic Paper

Episodes 2008; 31(4): 429-432

Published online December 1, 2008


Copyright © International Union of Geological Sciences.

C. H. Pander's introduction to conodonts, 1856

Walter C. Sweet1, Barry J. Cooper2

1School of Earth Sciences The Ohio State University Columbus, OH 43210 USA
2Primary Industries and Resources South Australia GPO Box 1671 Adelaide SA 5001 AUSTRALIA

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


It is rare in the annals of science for a single publication to provide a definitive introduction to a previously unknown group of animals. Yet this was the case with the monograph that included the initial descriptions of an important, extinct group of fossil animals: the conodonts. The publication, by Christian Heinrich Pander, appeared in St Petersburg in 1856. The volume of ninety-one pages, written in German and accompanied by seven beautifully executed plates, was issued by the Imperial Academy of Sciences as part of a series entitled Geognostische Beschreibung der Russisch-Baltischen Gouvernements.
For the seventy years following 1856, Pander's description of conodonts provided an essentially unmodified account of this newly discovered animal group. Furthermore, with the discovery in 1926 of the potential value of conodonts in stratigraphic correlation, this zoologically enigmatic group of fossils rapidly assumed the position of importance in Paleozoic and Triassic biostratigraphic work that it enjoys today. So, in recognition of Pander's important work, we offer this tribute in honor of the fortieth anniversary of the Pander Society, an international association of micropaleontologists formed in his honor.
Siegfried and Gross (1971) have described Pander's four monographs on Lower Paleozoic fossils as classic, and Raikov (1964), in an assessment of all of Pander's scientific contributions, regards him as the founder of Russian paleontology. He is also commonly seen as one of the founders of the field of embryology. In this contribution we focus on that part of his 1856 monograph in which he named, discussed, and analyzed conodonts.