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Trilobite translations

By: Rebecca Hancock, Category: Science, Date: 08 Dec 2009

Find out why a new publication, the Trilobite Record of China, co-edited by Australian Museum palaeontologist Dr Yong Yi Zhen, has made life a lot easier for the world’s trilobite experts.

Dr Yong Yi Zhen

Graham McLean © Australian Museum

The Trilobite Record of China has been described as a must-have book for anyone who researches trilobites (extinct marine invertebrates, sometimes referred to as the ‘beetles of the Palaeozoic’).

Dr Yong Yi Zhen, Acting Collection Manager of Paleontology at the Australian Museum, spent many a long night poring over articles, translating and reviewing data for the preparation of the Trilobite Record of China.

Now, due to the efforts of Dr Zhen, co-editor Dr Zhou Zhiyi and other Chinese colleagues, an important body of scientific work on the trilobites of China can be readily accessed by scientists around the world.

‘Since about one-third of world trilobite genera were reported from China, it was almost impossible to study trilobites without a grasp of the Chinese literature’, said Dr Zhen.

‘Most of the trilobite workers outside China had difficulties in accessing the vast number of scattered Chinese publications. The aim of our book was to fill this gap and serve as a major reference and guide on the subject.’

In the course of their research, the authors identified a number of synonymies in the existing taxonomic literature (that is, different scientific names for the same taxon, such as two names for the same species). After critically reviewing 1677 trilobite genera in the Paleozoic rocks of China, they determined that 1317 of those are valid.

The result of their work is the most complete and consistent data set available for trilobite records in China with updated information on temporal and spatial distributions and a chapter on the history of trilobite biodiversity written by Dr Zhen.

The Cambrian and Ordovician trilobites of Australia have a lot in common with those of China and so the Trilobite Record of China will be an essential reference for palaeontologists when identifying and describing new Australian trilobite faunas.

Trilobite Record of China, 2008. Zhou Zhiyi and Zhen Yongyi (Eds). Published by Science Press, Beijing.

What the experts say:

‘This is an extraordinarily useful document that all trilobite workers will need.’ Associate Professor Jim Jago, University of South Australia.

‘Congratulations on the publication of your very important book on the Chinese trilobite record – a real landmark!’ Professor Art Boucot, USA.

‘It provides a fabulous set of data on stratigraphical and geological settings of China, trilobite systematics, biostratigraphy and paleobiogeography . . . It will be always at hand.’ Dr Franco Tortello, Argentina.

‘It is a very impressive publication, and the comprehensive listing of trilobite genera will be invaluable in my research. You are both to be congratulated on a very fine piece of work.’ Dr David Holloway, Museum Victoria

‘An extremely useful reference for future trilobite research.’ Dr John Paterson, University of New England.

‘It is tremendously useful and has really nice production quality too.’ Dr Greg Edgecombe, Natural History Museum, London.