ABSTRACT

Modern paleontology in Turkey appeared in the early nineteenth century, together with the first modern geological studies. The fossils collected in these studies were initially used to establish biostratigraphy and to make the first geological maps of the country. Paleontologists were involved in these studies from the beginning; the earliest identifications of new animal and plant taxa from Turkey occurred in the same century along with the detailed descriptions of the rich and diverse Turkish fossil record. Aside from the academic studies, some paleontologists also took part in the economic side by contributing to stratigraphic analysis of coal beds or participating in petroleum exploration. All these pioneering works on the geology and paleontology of Turkey were done by foreigners; however, the outcomes of this newly introduced science were quickly appreciated by Ottoman Turkey. During the middle of the nineteenth century, the first text mentioning geological processes was written by the head scholar of the Imperial School of Military Engineering, while the first geology classes began to be taught under the Imperial Medical School in Istanbul, in which the first natural history collection was also established. Unfortunately, not a single original study in paleontology was produced by Ottoman citizens, with the notable exception of an Austrian immigrant of Hungarian descent, possibly because of a lack of a real interest in earth sciences.

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