Zechstein Reef Fossils and their Palaeoecology

Palaeontological Association Field Guide to Fossils No 3

By Neville Hollingworth and Timothy Pettigrew

There is very little on the fossils of the UK Permian, so this guide was a welcome addition, when it was published in 1988. This was the third of 1988, Palass’s 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.

The Upper Permian reef of northeast England developed along the western margin of the Zechstein basin, which contains fossils from a bryozoan and shell-dominated reef. Zechstein Reef Fossils and their Palaeoecology contains a field guide for the identification of all the common fossils, using black and white photographs, line drawings, and life mode reconstructions.

The guide is set out in a slightly different format to the usual Palass guides. It first describes fossil localities and the analytical techniques that have been used to ascertain relative abundance, frequency and the palaeocommunity. It then discusses preservation, collecting and conservation. In addition, four reef paleocommunities are reconstructed. These provide a visual indication of changing faunal relationships during reef development and they are supported by relative abundance diagrams and a short description of the inferred ecology of each community.

It then provides an identification guide to fossils in the context of reconstructions of mode of life and provides theories on the feeding strategies of reef biota and the evolution of the reefs themselves. Finally, the guide provides information on the faunal compositions and ecologies for the eight localities covered.

Sunderland Borough Council, with the Nature Conservancy Council and the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, have preserved these eight localities, which have been chosen to illustrate the various reef facies types and they yield diagnostic faunas. Therefore, if you are interested in this somewhat niche, but fascinating area of UK palaeontology, this is a good one for you.

Zechstein Reef Fossils and their Palaeoecology: Guide No 3, by Neville Hollingworth and T Pettigrew, The Palaeontological Association, London (1988), 75 pages (paperback), ISBN: 0901702382

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