I wouldn’t say I know Paul Taylor other than as an editor of his articles for Deposits magazine, but I did once go on a fieldtrip with him, more years ago than I care to remember. It was to the Coralline Crag of Suffolk, which was chock full of bryozoans – Paul’s favourite fossil. And very interesting it was too – as was Paul. Therefore, I am not surprised how fascinating this book turns out to be.
Any serious collector of fossils will certainly have heard of the famous Green River, Morrison and Hell Creek formations. These, are not commonly detailed in guides that can easily be obtained in the UK – that is until now. Dr John R Nudds from the University of Manchester, UK, has teamed up with Dr Paul A Selden from the University of Kansas, USA, to produce this outstanding publication.
Patagonia has not always been the cold, arid and dry place it is today. About 17Ma – because the Andes were much lower allowing humid winds from the west to reach the area – it consisted of substantial forests and grasslands. It was also inhabited by strange and wonderful animals, many of which are now extinct.
This fascinating book looks at the professional interaction over more than 30 years between a respected husband and wife team of US palaeontologists working for most of their professional lives in Australia and a freelance artist, as he tries to interpret their work and bring to life ancient organisms and environments.
Mary Anning was clearly one of the most significant characters of eighteenth century science and possibly of all time, particularly in the realm of palaeontology. I am not sure that she is quite as unknown as the American author this excellent little biography claims, but she certainly should be better known.
Scotland has been the source of many important fossil discoveries, from the first ever soft body parts of the conodont animal, to Devonian fishes and early tetrapods. Yet, apart from a few very good books, there is next to nothing on the fossils that can be found here. Therefore, this little book comes as a welcome addition to this otherwise barren literary scene.
I remember buying the first edition of Ken Brook’s fascinating little guide on Hastings a long time ago, and bumbling off to Hastings in the hope of finding Lower Cretaceous dinosaurs and tree ferns.
Like the book, Applications of Palaeontology: Techniques and Case Studies, this book is not for the casual fossil collector. Rather it is for the student, academic, oil industry professional or the more dedicated amateur collector.
In recent years, the Jurassic Coast Trust really has produced some great books and I have had the privilege of reviewing quite a number of them. These two companion books are intended as walking guides to the World Heritage Site – the so-called ‘Jurassic Coast’ – and the first covers the western limb from Orcombe Point to the Fleet, while the second deals with the eastern part, from Portland to Studland.
In recent years, there has been a lot written on the fossils of the UK Chalk. However, this guide was the first and is still probably the best for identifying and learning about the fossils that can be found in the chalk cliffs and pits of the UK.
This is a brief guide explaining how the reader may collect meaningful data at outcrop level and make provisional identifications of common lithologies. It is not intended as a comprehensive field geology textbook and assumes that readers have already studied geological theory (and, as such, is probably most useful of the undergraduate, but could be interesting for anyone interested in geology).
I suspect that many people who visit this website do so because of their amateur love of fossils and geology. They are interested in geology and palaeontology only on a curious level. However, there are no doubt some – perhaps at university or have just left tertiary education – who are currently wondering whether their interest in fossils can be used for more remunerative purposes.
I don’t normally review BGS memoirs – they are excellent publications, but largely written for the professional or the seriously committed amateur geologist. (I have to admit to owning several, which cover my favourite fossil collecting areas of the UK.) However, this one is a ‘Special Memoir’ that I am quite willing to make an exception for.
The British upper Ordovician has a spectacular variety of invertebrate fossils. The marine communities in which they lived developed on a number of microcontintents and terranes, associated with tectonically active areas of the Earth’s crust.
The Geologists’ Association has produced yet another great guide, this time on the geology of Wales. However, this is a slightly different beast from most of their other publications. As is always the case with this excellent series of guides, the book describes the geology of different sites capable of being visited. However, this time, the conceit is that visiting the locations is assumed to be by car.
I love both the Yorkshire coast and its Jurassic fossil flora. I have used this guide many times, while ambling around looking for fossil plants.
This is an odd, but nice little book, covering the geology of the Craven Lowlands, an that area is somewhat ignored, geologically. This may be true and, as much of this area is covered by Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it therefore seems a great area for a geologically minded to go to for a holiday.
Fossils of the Rhaetian Penarth Group was the ninth published by PalAss and covers the eponymous Rhaetian Penarth Group, which includes the former Westbury Beds, Cotham Beds and White Lias.
Nowadays, people don’t do geology – they do ‘earth sciences’ – and this book is very much in that mould. That’s not to say this is a problem. Expanding the study of the world to take on a more holistic view of how things work is fascinating and, it is clear from this book, just how much man has now begun to understand and benefit from this new way of looking at geological science.
The Caithness area of Scotland is important for its geology, but is also well known for its palaeontology. The Caithness Flagstones are famous for fossil fish and the Helmsdale Fault for the Helmsdale Boulder Beds deposit, beside an active submarine fault scarp. The area even once had its own ‘gold rush’ and you can still try your luck at panning there today at Kildonan.
When the long awaited PalAss guide to Wealden fossil flora and fauna finally arrived, it was apparent that it was a magnificent tome. It is, by far, the most ambitious and complete of their guides, covering various vertebrate groups, together with invertebrates, plants and stratigraphical descriptions of what can be found on the coast and in the quarries of southern England and the Isle of Wight.
I have learned to like amber and this certainly isn’t the first book on the subject I have reviewed. I make no apologies – it’s a fascinating subject. However, if you like fossils in amber, you should definitely get this book. But, if you don’t like creepy-crawlies, perhaps you shouldn’t – as it’s the pictures that make it a resounding success.
The Scottish Borders region is famed for their frontier history, and attendant myths and ballads. This book is concerned with their more ancient geological history, which is revealed by its rocks. These indicate that the area was once on the edge of a huge ocean – the Iapetus – which met its end between the inexorable crush of tectonic plates.
Once upon a time, I would have said that the only reason to buy this sort of guide is to look at the (black and white) photos of dinosaurs and their bones, and learn about the terrestrial life of what is now the Isle of Wight. However, this is obviously wrong. Of course it is possible for amateurs, as well as professionals, to find dinosaur bones on the beaches of the island.
Fossils of the Oxford Clay was the fourth published guide by PalAss 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.