History of IRGO

The Committee on Recent Ostracoda was the predecessor of the International Research Group on Ostracoda with its official start in 1963. In the following Rosalie F. Maddocks compiled the history and accomplishments of the early organisation.

The Committee on Recent Ostracoda was formed at the First International Symposium on Ostracoda in Naples (10.- 19. June) 1963. It began as an informal, voluntary association of a relatively small number of people.
During the discussions at that meeting it had been noted, on the one hand, that some paleontologists had proposed new genera of Recent (living) ostracodes without describing the soft anatomy, and on the other hand, that some biologists had proposed new genera without fully illustrating the carapace. In both cases, species of these genera were later hard to recognize. The charge to members of the Committee was to remedy these deficiencies by describing the soft parts (and carapace, if needed) of the type species (or a closely related species, if the type species was fossil) for each genus represented in the Recent for which this had not been done.
They began the task bravely, and many people volunteered or were nominated for the taxonomic groups on which they were already conducting research, had taxonomic monographs in preparation, or had a continuing interest. The use of the word "assignment" in early documents suggests that in the beginning it was supposed that these tasks could be completed quickly.
The need for coordinating this work and the significant benefits that had been gained from the Naples meeting led to planning further meetings, first in Hull, then in Pau. In this way began the tradition of the International Symposia on Ostracoda.

There was need for some medium of communication between meetings, and so was born the newsletter, The Ostracodologist, which originally appeared quarterly.
The moving spirit of the Committee on Recent Ostracoda was Dr. Harbans Puri, who had also convened the first symposium in Naples. His enthusiasm for this work was contagious and inspired others to do their best at this growing task.
As the years went by, some members retired, or found that the press of other duties no longer allowed them time for research, or discovered that their other research interests would preclude finishing their assignments. Other workers were added and the Committee grew large.
The very success of the Committee was its undoing. During the 1970's, biological and paleontological ostracode research flourished in an atmosphere of improving international and interdisciplinary cooperation. Each successive meeting was attended by more people with a greater variety of scientific contributions. There were so many emerging opportunities for worthwhile research concerning Ostracoda that simple descriptive taxonomy became a low priority for many workers.
Most important, the Committee had assumed a planning role. Its business meetings became the place for discussing future symposia, the newsletter, a revision of the ostracode volume of the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, and many other topics that were only marginally related to the original purpose. At the same time, informal working groups for other geologic ages or geographic regions were forming and starting to conduct their own meetings. Soon, it was felt that there should be one umbrella organization that would include all ostracode workers.
At the business meeting in 1974 in Hamburg and again in 1976 in Saalfelden these issues were discussed. It was urged that the Committee on Recent Ostracoda seek official recognition as a working group from the International Palaeontological Association, which is allied with both the International Union of Geological Sciences and the International Union of Biological Sciences under the International Council of Scientific Unions and UNESCO. At the same time a more inclusive name should be adopted. Other working groups would continue to exist as informal, autonomous bodies within this more inclusive organization.
In 1977 Dr. Henri J. Oertli, Chairman, reported that the name of the Committee on Recent Ostracoda had been changed to the International Research Group on Ostracoda.
By letter dated 18.9.1979 Dr. O.H. Walliser, Secretary General of the International Palaeontological Association acknowledged the organization of the International Research Group on Ostracoda with its autonomous working groups. This arrangement has continued comfortably to the present time.
Did the Committee on Recent Ostracoda complete its original task?
No! Although some members did finish their assignments in creditable or even spectacular fashion, some members did not. In hindsight, we can see that many assignments could not be finished, because the rate at which new genera have been proposed in the last 20 years has far outstripped the capabilities of the few people willing to describe soft parts. The gap today is greater than it was in 1963, when the problem was originally recognized.
On the other hand, yes! The work of the Committee encouraged many paleontologists to examine soft parts or at least to consult the biological literature. The influence of the Committee produced better quality of taxonomic descriptions and illustrations, improved classifications, directories of ostracode researchers, inventories of type collections, and numerous bibliographic and nomenclatural compilations. In serendipitous fashion, much more was accomplished than was originally intended, which was of much greater importance than had been foreseen. By this standard, the Committee on Recent Ostracoda and its successor the International Research Group on Ostracoda, have been hugely successful!

In the early years, Minutes of the Committee on Recent Ostracoda were circulated only to members. Later, the Minutes were published in The Ostracodologist in the following issues:
No. 2 December 1963; No. 6 March 1965; No. 13 November 1968; No. 16 November 1970; No. 20 January 1973; No. 24 December 1976; No. 25 December 1977; No. 27 December 1979; and in the early issues of Cypris.

The following people served as officers of the Committee on Recent Ostracoda:

Meeting in Naples, 1963
Chairman, Fred Swain

Meeting in the U.S.A., 1964
Chairman, Fred Swain
Secretary, John Neale

Meeting in Hamburg, 1968
Chairman, Harbans S. Puri
Secretary, Kenneth G. McKenzie
Meeting in Pau, 1970 Chairman, Harbans S. Puri
Secretary, Kenneth G. McKenzie

Meeting in Newark, Delaware, 1972
Chairman, Harbans S. Puri
Secretary, John Neale

Meeting in Hamburg, 1974
At this meeting the term of officers was restricted to begin at the end of one meeting and continue to the end of the next meeting.
Chairman, John Neale
Secretary, Kenneth G. McKenzie

Meeting in Saalfelden, 1976
Chairman, Henri Oertli
Secretary, Michael Keen

Meeting in Belgrade, 1979
Before this meeting the name had been changed to International Research Group on Ostracoda.
President, I. G. Sohn
Vice-President, Past-President and Counselor, Henri Oertli
Second Vice-President, E. N. Polenova
Secretary, Michael Keen

I have compiled this history from documents published in The Ostracodologist and from memory. There may be gaps and inaccuracies, for which additions and corrections are solicited.

Rosalie F. Maddocks

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