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Publication of the decades-long Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology is a work-in-progress; and therefore it is not yet complete: For example, there is no volume yet published regarding the post-Paleozoic eracaenogastropods (a molluscan group including the whelk and periwinkle). Furthermore, every so often, previously published volumes of the Treatise are revised.
The project began with work on a few, mostly slim volumes in which a single senior specialist in a distinct field of invertebrate paleozoology would summarize one particular group. As a result, each publication became a comprehensive compilation of everything known at that time for each group. Examples of this stage of the project are Part G. Bryozoa, by Ray S. Bassler (the first volume, published in 1953), and Part P. Arthropoda Part 2, the Chelicerata by Alexander Petrunkevitch (1955/1956).
Around 1959 or 1960, as more and larger invertebrate groups were being addressed, the incompleteness of the then-current state of affairs became apparent. So several senior editors of the Treatise started major research programs to fill in the evident gaps. Consequently, the succeeding volumes, while still maintaining the original format, began to change from being a set of single-authored compilations into being major research projects in their own right. Newer volumes had a committee and a chief editor for each volume, with yet other authors and researchers assigned particular sections. Museum collections that had not been previously described were studied; and sometimes new major taxonomic families—and even orders—had to be described. More attention was given to transitional fossils and evolutionaryradiation—eventually producing a much-more complete encyclopedia of invertebrate paleontology.
All these discoveries led to revisions and additional volumes. Even those taxa already covered were expanded: Books such as those regarding the Cnidaria (vol. F), the Brachiopoda (vol. H) and the Trilobita (vol. O) each went from one modest publication to three large volumes. And yet another volume regarding the brachiopods (number five) was published in 2006.
Until 2007, the editor of the Treatise was Roger L. Kaesler at The Paleontological Institute at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas.
Layout of the articles
From the beginning, the character of the Treatise volumes has followed and further developed the pattern of the classic Invertebrate Paleontology written by Moore, Lalicker and Fischer (1953).
Following their lead, the Treatise includes in a typical article (a) a description of the basic anatomy of the modern members of each invertebrate group, (b) distinctive features of the fossils, (c) a comprehensive illustrated glossary of terms, (d) a short discussion of the evolutionary history of the group, (e) a stratigraphic range chart, done at the level of the major subdivision (lower, middle and upper) of each Geologic period.
This is followed by (f) a listing and technical description of every known genus, along with (g) geographic distribution (usually by continent only, but occasionally by country) and (h) stratigraphic range.
Next come (i) one or two representative species illustrated by line drawings (in the early volumes) or by black-and-white photographs (in subsequent volumes), each accompanied by an appropriate reference for that genus. Furthermore, each Treatise article includes (j) the date, authorship, and scientific history of the taxa.
Finally, there is (k) a comprehensive bibliography and list of references. Not only that, but the more recent volumes and revisions also include (l) new fossil and phylogenetic discoveries, (m) advances in numerical and cladistic methods, (n) analysis of the group's genome, (o) its molecular phylogeny, and so on.
List of its volumes
The following is an annotated list of the volumes already published (1953 to 2007) or volumes currently being prepared:
Introduction (A) and sub-metazoan Protista (B, C & D)
(Part G, Revised. Bryozoa --- additional volumes in preparation).
Part H.Brachiopoda, vol. 1 & 2, xxxii + 927 p., 746 fig., 1965. ISBN0-8137-3008-2. The original volume is out-of-print. --- Part H refers to brachiopods, shelled animals including living lamp shells.
Part H, Revised. Brachiopoda, Volume 1: Introduction, xx + 539 p., 417 fig., 40 tables, 1997. ISBN0-8137-3108-9.
(Part J, Mollusca 2: Paleozoic Gastropoda --- volume in preparation).
Part K. Mollusca 3: Cephalopoda General Features, Endoceratoidea, Actinoceratoidea, Nautiloidea, & Bactritoidea, xxviii + 519 p., 361 fig., 1964. ISBN0-8137-3011-2. The original volume is out of print. --- Parts K and L refer to cephalopods with external shells, including ammonites and Nautilus-like creatures.
(Part K, Revised. Mollusca 3: Nautiloidea --- volume in preparation).
(Part Q, Revised. Arthropoda 3 --- in preparation).
Part R. Arthropoda 4, Volumes 1 and 2: Crustacea (exclusive of Ostracoda), Myriapoda, & Hexapoda, xxxvi + 651 p., 397 fig., 1969. ISBN0-8137-3018-X. The original volume is out-of-print.
Part R. Arthropoda 4, Volumes 3 and 4: Hexapoda, xxii + 655 p., 265 fig., 1992. ISBN0-8137-3019-8. The original volume is out-of-print.
(Part R, Revised. Arthropoda 4 --- in preparation).
Echinodermata (S, T & U)
Part S.Echinodermata 1, Volumes 1 and 2: Echinodermata General Features, Homalozoa, Crinozoa (exclusive of Crinoidea), xxx + 650 p., 400 fig., 1967 / 1968. ISBN0-8137-3020-1. The original volume is out-of-print. ---- Part S refers to primitive sessile echinoderms.
Part T. Echinodermata 2, Volumes 1-3: Crinoidea, xxxviii + 1,027 p., 619 fig., 1978. ISBN0-8137-3021-X. The original volume is out-of-print. ---- Part T refers to crinoids, a group of echinoderms including living sea lilies.
Arkell, W.J.; Kummel, B.; Wright, C.W. (1957). Mesozoic Ammonoidea. Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, Part L, Mollusca 4. Lawrence, Kansas: Geological Society of America and University of Kansas Press.