Palaeontographical Society

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The Palaeontographical Society is a learned society, established in 1847, and is the oldest extant Society devoted to the advancement of palaeontological knowledge. The Society publishes monographs that further its primary purpose, which is to promote the description and illustration of fossil floras and faunas from Great Britain and Ireland.[1] Since starting publishing in March 1848 (Searles Valentine Wood's work [2]) the Society has published over 600 monographs. It was through the Society that Charles Darwin published his monograph on fossil barnacles,[3] and Richard Owen set out his early descriptions of dinosaurs.[4]

The first council of the Society, presided over by Sir Henry Thomas de la Beche, included Prof. Thomas Bell, Frederick E. Edwards, Sir Philip de Malpas Grey Egerton, Hugh Falconer, William H. Fitton, J.W. Flower, Prof. Edward Forbes, Levett Landon Boscawen Ibbetson, Charles Lyell, John Morris, Prof. John Phillips, Joseph Prestwich, Daniel Sharpe, James Smith, Nathaniel T. Wetherell and Alfred White; the Treasurer was Searles Wood, and Honorary Secretary was J.S. Bowerbank. Thirty-seven local secretaries were also appointed. Notable members of the Society included Robert Heddle, William King, Charles Maclaren, Gideon Mantell, Sir Roderick Murchison and Reverend Adam Sedgwick. The membership totalled almost 600 individuals and institutions. In the following years, eminent scientists such as Richard Owen, Charles Darwin, Robert Chambers and Laurent-Guillaume de Koninck joined the ranks of the Society.

The Society also offers financial support for research dedicated to the taxonomy and systematic palaeontology of British and Irish fossils.[5] The Edward Forbes Prize is awarded for publication excellence by early career researchers in the field of taxonomic and systematic palaeontology; is presented at the Society’s Annual General Meeting. The Richard Owen Research Fund assists with travel, visits to museums, field work, etc… within the Society’s remit.

The Palaeontographical Society Medal is awarded biennially in recognition of a sustained and important series of contributions to the taxonomic and systematic palaeontology of Great Britain and Ireland, especially those which address problems of palaeogeography, palaeoecology and phylogeny. Recipients are not limited to palaeontologists based in the UK and Ireland. The first Medal was awarded in 2014 to Prof. W.J. Kennedy.

Selected monographs published by the Society

  • 1851, Darwin's Fossil Lepadidae
  • 1855, Darwin's Fossil Balanidae and Verrucidae
  • 1865-1881, Owen's Fossil Reptilia of the Liassic
  • 1871, Owen's Fossil Mammals of the Liassic Formations
  • 1901-1918, Elles & Wood's "British Graptolites"

Publications continue today, for example:

  • 2013, Mohibullah, M., Williams, M. & Zalasiewicz, J.A. Late Ordovician ostracods of the Girvan District, south-west Scotland. Monograph of the Palaeontographical Society London: pp. 1–40, pls 1-6 (Publ 640, part of Volume 167).
  • 2013, Copestake, P. & Johnson, B. Lower Jurassic foraminifera from the Llanbedr (Mochras Farm) borehole, north Wales, UK. Monograph of the Palaeontographical Society London: pp. 1–403, pls 1-21 (Publ 641, part of Volume 167).
  • 2014, Smith, A.S. & Benson, R.B.J. Osteology of Rhomaleosaurus thorntoni (Sauropterygia: Rhomaleosauridae) from the Lower Jurassic (Toarcian) of Northamptonshire, England. Monograph of the Palaeontographical Society London: pp. 1–40, pls 1-35 (Publ 642, part of Volume 168).
  • 2014, Donovan, S.K. & Fearnhead, F.E. The British Devonian Crinoidea. Part 1 - Introduction and Camerata. Monograph of the Palaeontographical Society London: pp. 1–55, pls 1-15 (Publ 643, part of Volume 168).
  • 2015, Smith, A.B. British Jurassic regular echinoids. Part 1 (Introduction, Cidaroida, Echinothurioida, Aspidodiadematoida and Pedinoida). Monograph of the Palaeontographical Society London: pp. 1-67, pls 1-41 (Publ 644, part of Volume 169).
  • 2015, Wright, C.W. & Kennedy, W.J. The Ammonoidea of the Lower Chalk. Part 6. Monograph of the Palaeontographical Society London: pp. 404-459, pls 125-145 (Publ 645, part of Volume 169).

See also


  1. Palaeontographical Society's official website
  2. Wood, S.V. 1848. The Crag Mollusca. Part I, Univalves Part 1. Monograph of the Palaeontographical Society London: pp i-xii, 1-208, pls 1-21, (Publ 1, part of Volume 1).
  3. Darwin, C. 1851. The fossiI Lepadidae. Monograph of the Palaeontographical Society London: pp. 1-vi. 1-88. pls. i-v (Publ 13, part of Volume 5).
  4. Owen, R. 1855. The fossil Reptilia of the Wealden and Purbeck formations. Part 2, Dinosauria. Monograph of the Palaeontographical Society London: pp. 1-54, pls i-xix, xviA. (Publ 27, part of Volume 8).
  5. Palaeontographical Society - Research Funding - Details of Awards/Grants