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Catalogue of fossil Coleoptera

A.G. Ponomarenko provided unique information on all Coleoptera taxa of beetles of the previous epochs, which he prepared based on publications on fossil beetle faunas. This information was accumulated for many years and was recorded on bibliographical cards available only to visitors of the Palaeontological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. Information that was accumulated scrupulously included not only literature, but also locations, stratigraphy and frequently also author's comments on diagnosis of a certain taxon, sometimes even images or signs of imprints or inclusions mentioned in the original description or noticed by the compiler of the catalogue.

Such coverage of the multifaceted materials on fossil beetles is of great value in its own right. These materials are unique also because they have been prepared by a specialist who made the greatest contribution in palaeocoleopterology and described a maximum number of extinct beetles. The original point of view of the compiler was reflected in the selection and presentation of information on cards. It can be even stated that the interpretation of the compiler of the catalogue is of particular value compared to the value of the information.

Even though the structure of the accumulated information is very close to the structure of the database it is impossible to transform the data automatically into the data base or even into sufficiently formalized text files because the computer version of the catalogue was compiled using text processor Word. A large amount of information that was put on the cards in different years needs verification and special unification before inclusion in the database. Therefore, only a preliminary version of the future data base in the form of unedited text files is placed on the site. Reading of some parts of these files may cause difficulties. At the same time, in spite of the lacunae it is unlikely that information as vast and as complete as that would be available anywhere else. In the recent years A.G. Ponomarenko put data from cards in electronic form. As new data are added, the structure of this part will be improved and finally transformed into a data base covering many aspects of study.

In the form proposed here the catalogue has four web pages: two include information on taxa including representatives of fossil faunas, one contains geographic and stratigraphic information on localities and one includes literature which will be extended in accordance with the format accepted.

It should be emphasized that A.G. Ponomarenko having described many taxa of extinct beetles undoubtedly knows ancient faunas better than any other coleopterists. He can diagnose some groups even by small fragments of elytra in which the character of punctuate pattern can be traced. Therefore unlike many researchers of the order being familiar with many groups of recent beetles he suggested an interpretation of formation of large taxa from the very first forms, which may be placed in this order. In a sense A.G. Ponomarenko's view of the system and classification of the order is not retrospective, but perspective, i.e. he views formation of the order and development of its major taxa comparing them with the most ancient forms. The majority of researchers use an opposite approach, they study recent fauna in the first turn and it serves as a key to understanding what can be seen in imprints showing deformed parts of bodies and appendages of beetles. In this connection the view of A.G. Ponomarenko wou ld be interesting to all visitors of the site with any experience and any interests. The accepted macrosystem of the order is of particular values for every one who is interested in classification of Coleoptera.

A.G. Kirejtshuk
December 2002