Fossils of the Oxford Clay

Palaeontological Association Field Guide to Fossils No 4

Edited by David M Martill and John D Hudson

Over the years (this guide was published in 1991), PalAss has created 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.

Fossils of the Oxford Clay was the fourth published and covers the eponymous Jurassic Oxford Clay, which has been the major source of brick clay in the UK, notwithstanding the closures of clay pits in the Peterborough area over the years since this was published.

The clay contains a diverse and exceptionally well preserved fauna. This guide is the first (and, as far as I am aware, the only) to contain descriptions of the entire fauna in a single volume. The introduction describes the geological setting and discusses aspects of the paleoecology. Then, ten chapters, each written by a different expert in their field, deal with all the major macroinvertebrate groups (including the glorious pyrite ammonites that can be found), some of the microinvertebrates, and the famous vertebrate fauna, such as ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs and dinosaurs.

With extensive black and white photographs, the chapters cover:

  • Bivalves.
  • Gastropods and scaphopods.
  • Ammonites.
  • Other cephalopods (belemnites, nautilids and ‘Teuthids’.
  • Brachiopods.
  • Other invertebrates (such as foraminifera and arthropods).
  • Fish.
  • Marine reptiles.
  • Terrestrial reptiles (including dinosaurs).

In addition, useful appendices provide the collector with a list of important fossil localities (not all of which are now available) and the locations of museums with collections of comparative material (which do, on the whole, still exist).

I would agree with PalAss that:

This book is a definitive guide to our current knowledge of Oxford Clay faunal diversity. It is an essential purchase for all those interested in Jurassic paleontology.”

Fossils of the Oxford Clay: Guide No 4, edited by David M Martill and John D Hudson, The Palaeontological Association, London (1991), 286 pages (paperback), ISBN: 0901702463

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