Plant Fossils of the British Coal Measures

Palaeontological Association Field Guide to Fossils No 6

By Christopher J Cleal and Barry A Thomas

The first ever fossils I collected were from the spoils tips of the two coal mines in Aberdare, South Wales. Alas, these and most other such spoil tips have been landscaped and covered over. Clearly this was both inevitable and desirable after the closure the UK coal industry, but it is a shame for those of us who love Carboniferous Coal Measures plant fossils.

Fortunately, there are still some locations where you can collect and, over the years (this guide was published in 1994), PalAss has create a wonderful library of guides to (usually) UK fossils, which the professional and amateur can use to identify and learn about the fossils they have found or want to find.

And this is another excellent example.

Plant Fossils of the British Coal Measures, by renowned palaeobotantists, J Cleal and Barry A Thomas, covers some of the most commonly collected plant fossils in Britain. The intention of the guide is to help identify these fossils, because of the difficulties in interpreting fragmentary specimens, and the lack of easily accessible, illustrated guides.

Therefore, keys are provided to the identification of nearly 300 of the most common species found in the British Coal Measures, many of which are illustrated with black and white photographs and diagrams. Also included are discussions on the states of preservation of the fossils, and on the relationship of the various dispersed organs to whole plant reconstructions. Stratigraphical and paleoecological notes are included to aid collectors in the broader interpretation of their collections.

If you, like me, love these fossils, this is a great guide if you want to explore the ancient Carboniferous jungles.

Plant Fossils of the British Coal Measures: Guide no 6, by Christopher J Cleal and Barry A Thomas, The Palaeontological Association, London (1994), 222 pages (paperback), ISBN: 0901702536

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