MODENIZING STENO’S PRODROMUS(1669): STENONIAN HERITAGE IN THE HISTORY OF EVOLUTIONARY PALAEONTOLOGY IN JAPAN
As soon as Japan opened the door to western countries, much knowledge flew into Japan. The Japanese in those days demanded a practical learning and technology to develop their lands rather than a theoretical and conceptual learning. The geological concept of Lyell and the evolutional thought of Darwin, however, came into Japan comparatively fast. In 1880, Japanese geologists first knew the name of Steno in the abridged translation of Lyell’s Principles of Geology. But Japanese students learned genuine history of geology from the books written by Geikie (1897) and Zittel (1899 and 1901).
After WWII, Steno’s geological thinking seemed to be accepted in the discussions about methodology and pedagogy of geology. Ultimately, Steno’s Prodromus was completely translated into Japanese by T. Yamada in 2004 as a byproduct of his Ph.D. dissertation.
In the 1970s, evolutionary palaeontology started in the University of Tokyo. Professor Hanai Tetsuro (1924-2007) tried to change the meaning of fossils from the tools of stratigraphy and palaeoeclimatology to living organisms themselves in the past. The logic and methodology of evolutionary palaeontology depends on Steno’s thought of geology (comparative anatomy and actualism) and Darwinism. And a new stratigraphy depending on the intensive observation of outcrops was proposed for evolutionary palaeontology. Thus, we can interpret this process as one of the trials of modernizing Steno’s thought in Prodromus in the situation of Japan.