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I wish I had this book when I was starting out collecting fossils. It has everything and more you need to take your hobby (and, who know, later a career in palaeontology) to a better, and more advance and fulfilling place. While I will never take the record-keeping and note taking to the levels gently suggested in this very readable book, perhaps if I had read this when I was a teenager, perhaps I would have done.

I have stood several times in front of an (apparently) plain white, chalk cliff-face along with others, while Prof Mortimore discussed the implications of what we were seeing. And, every time, I left not just thinking but knowing this was the most fascinating piece of geology I had ever seen. That is it the man.

This is another of Dr David Penney’s (founder and owner of the excellent Siri Scientific Press, whose books I have frequently reviewed in this magazine) books on fossil spiders and insects. It is co-written with Dr James Jepson, whose research in Germany has involved studying fossil insects preserved in rock.

This is the second of a two-part series of monographs on spiders (and arachnids more generally) involving Dr David Penney (the first is Fossil Spiders: The evolutionary history of a mega-diverse order – Monograph Series Vol 1). This one is written with Jason Dunlop, who has described numerous new fossil species in a variety of arachnid groups, from scorpions to harvestmen, to mites and even some extinct groups.

The ‘Bracklesham Beds’ are a series of predominantly soft silty sands and clayey silts laid down in a sub-tropical shallow marine environment around 46Ma. Fossils are readily eroded and can be found loose on the beach along with modern sea shells. The guide has simple maps to direct fossil hunters to the best areas for surface-picking and likely exposures when the beach sand has been removed.

This is a lovely example of photographs used to inspire and text to explain. For many years, Dr Tony Waltham has produced a photo plus explanatory text for the back cover of the glossy magazine, Geology Today. The book represents a compilation of 110 such back covers that set out a “photographic journey” around some of the most impressive geological landscapes of the world as a result of his own travels.

Dr David Penney, founder and owner of the excellent Siri Scientific Presshas writen about Miocene spider inclusions in amber from deposits of the Dominican Republic. This is one of the many books on fossil spiders and insects that Siri Scientific Press publishes.

Growing up, I collected and purchased trilobite fossils for my own personal collection, to learn about and understand prehistoric life. They were to me, and still are, a fascinating group of fossils to examine and wonder about how the myriad of different forms evolved.

As the author, John McManus, writes: “The East Neuk of Fife was blessed with a mineral resource that was relatively easy to access”. This resource was coal – the driver of the industrial revolution and, even before then, a crucial element to the area’s industrial development from medieval times (or even Roman times) to the late twentieth century.

This is the first of a two-part series of monographs on spiders (and arachnids more generally) involving Dr David Penney and published by Siri Scientific Press – the other is reviewed at: Fossil Arachnids: Monograph Series Vol 2. This one is written with Dr Paul Selden, who has more than 30 years of researching, and teaching about, fossil arachnids.

Professor Robert Diffendal Jr’s little guidebook to the Great Plains of the USA makes for a fascinating read for an Englishman like me, who has never been there (but wants to). He makes it plain that they rarely correspond to the impression most people have of them.

This is clearly one for our German readers, of which I am glad to say there are many. However, this glossy and excellently produced hardback, covering the fossils of the Alpstein region of Switzerland, may have general appeal to anyone interested in the identification and study of fossils from various parts of the world, despite being written in German.

This Dunedin Academic press guide provides, at an introductory level, a succinct and readable guide to metamorphism. As readers will know, metamorphic rocks are one of the three main types of rocks.

I like palaeoart. A while ago, I went to the ‘Dinosaurs of China’ exhibition in Nottingham and bought myself a copy of the Chinese palaeoartist, Zhao Chuang’s ‘The Age of Dinosaurs’ – a veritable picture-fest of up-to-date reconstructions of ancient beasts and plants, complete with fuzzy raptors and other bird-like therapods.

Ever since Charles Darwin pointed out the problem, evolutionary biologists have been worried by the incompleteness of the fossil record. Fortunately, discoveries of formations containing exceptionally preserved fossils (conservation Lagerstätten) have provided fascinating and important information on the history life’s diversity.

The Crowood Press are really developing a nice little series of books on the landscape and geology of select regions of the British Isles, and Tony Waltham’s addition to the series about the Peak District is well worth a read. This new one follows the same format as the others – beautiful, full colour photos and diagrams, a fascinating chapter on each of the important geological and geomorphological aspects of the area (including buildings and industry), and an author who knows his stuff and can write it down with an easy and authoritative style.

In this second edition, Dougal Jerram has revised and updated the 2001 version, first published by Alwyn Scarth and Jean-Claude Tanguy. This is to reflect modern research and understanding of Europe’s volcanoes of the last 10,000 years (active, dormant and extinct).

Sea level change is something that probably everyone who does their best to keep up to date about climate change, thinks they know about and on which they will have an opinion. However, this guide clearly shows that there are important misconceptions about the topic, and recent newspaper articles, TV and radio presentations unfortunately tend to bear little relation to reality.

This GA guide is stated to be a “Geology Teaching Trail”. Well, it may be, but when I ambled along the trail with the guide in my hand, I certainly wasn’t in a teaching situation. Rather, I was out for a nice walk and a guide to explain what I was seeing. And it did just that and the classic Silurian/Ordovician unconformity you can see was just that. Classic!