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The Handbook of Cenozoic Calcareous Nannoplankton represents an attempt to synthesize our present knowledge about Cenozoic calcareous nannofossils. A great many species have now been described from Cenozoic rocks all over the world, together with a wealth of information concerning their stratigraphic occurrences, paleoecologic preferences, and phylogenetic relationships. However, this information has been dispersed to an unfortunate extent in the literature, so that it would seem to be useful to gather it together – as far as possible – in a single work. For this purpose, the author has selected the handbook format, where the species can be arranged for easy comparison.
The basis of the Handbook of Cenozoic Calcareous Nannoplankton is the grouping within appropriate genera of "all" Cenozoic calcareous nannoplankton species. By "all," the author means the validly erected species recognized in current literature, and also those that have been suppressed in synonymy (these latter are indicated by light-face type in the headings of their descriptions). It was not possible, however, to take into consideration invalidly or informally described taxa. During the last two decades we have witnessed a proliferation of generic names, such that the generic assignments of many species have been repeatedly modified. Recent taxonomic studies, which have sorted out phylogenetically significant characters of the species, have helped in retaining the more soundly-based genera and rejecting the unnecessary ones. It is on the basis of these more recent studies that the author has established the generic framework of the handbook, organizing the sequence of genera in accordance with a key of determinations based upon the optical properties of the calcareous nannofossils.
The handbook consists of nine volumes, seven of which are mainly concerned with taxonomy; one is an introductory overview, and one is a stratigraphic and taxonomic index. The relevant part of the key of determinations is included at the beginning of each volume; this is followed by the genera in the same sequence as the key.
Each chapter is organized as follows: (1) Introduction to the genus with its original diagnosis. Where appropriate, this may be followed by "Remarks" on the genus from other sources. Some genera are more suitably treated in groups, and in such cases a common introduction is placed before the chapter dealing with the first genus in the group, while the introduction to each included genus is reduced to the taxonomy. Wherever possible, a key of determinations to the species within a genus is given.
(2) Descriptions of the species, grouped by units. These consist of original descriptions, together with supplementary data on stratigraphic occurrence, preservation, paleoecologic preferences, and phylogenetic links. In places, the species description has been edited to use more appropriate terminology or to eliminate patent mistakes. All "Remarks" which follow the species description are taken from the original author (or emending author). The size range, the age and the geographic occurrence(s) are all according to the original reference. At the bottom of each unit is the code number of the reference from which the type description is taken, with its pagination, followed by the code number(s) for original illustrations reproduced from the same source (see below); the reference and illustration codes for other sources from which material has been reproduced; and where relevant, the reference code, pagination, and illustration codes of sources from which a recombination or emendation is adopted. The references are listed on the last page of each unit.
(3) Original light microscope illustrations of the species, complemented where necessary by later, more accurate pictures, are presented on the page facing each description. On the succeeding page or pages, most of the same species are also shown in electron micrographs. However, emphasis is given to the optical characteristics of the species and to their recognition using polarizing light microscopes. The illustrations are keyed to the reference code in bold face numbers, adjacent to the first illustration from each source; illustration code numbers for the individual figures (in light face) refer to plates and figures in the source reference(s), as listed on the last page of the unit.
The Handbook of Cenozoic Calcareous Nannoplankton ends with a composite reference list of all the citations in the book. (The supplementary data that are not referenced are personal observations.)