In these times, when the classic discipline of palaeontology is diminishing, there is a demanding need to inspire the next generation of palaeontologists – and perhaps also to make this field of scientific research more approachable. Otherwise, we are in the risk of losing generations of knowhow and a great tradition of studying time, through the evolution of life.
Normally, I wouldn’t be interested in semi-precious stones and other pretty things. Personally, I prefer grubbing around in the dirt, perhaps for those far more beautiful, elusive and perfectly formed Cretaceous terebratulids or Silurian trilobites. However, some semi-precious stones have the advantage of also providing a tangible link to the ancient history of life that is so fascinating.
As the author says, “The abundance and diversity of Foraminifera … make them uniquely useful in studies of modern marine environments and the ancient rock record”. And this book represents an interesting, enjoyable and informative ‘one-stop-shop’ treatment of precisely that subject.
Maybe it’s a result of my social anthropology and geological background, but I found this difficult but fascinating book a great read. It’s about nineteenth century India. It is not about the modern geological science or social anthropology of the subcontinent, but rather, the geological imagination of India, as well as its landscapes and people, and its history.
I sat down to read this over Christmas and what a good read it turned out to be. The appropriate word is ‘eclectic’ – because Measures for Measure is written for all us with an interest in the industrial history of Great Britain, and its impact on the landscape, economy, social history and culture.
The Geologists’ Association have extended their excellent series of geological guides by producing what some people (including me) would think at first was a slightly self-indulgent couple of volumes on ‘Devonshire Marbles’. However, for my part, I soon realised that this view is entirely wrong.
Introducing Natural Resources is another in the Dunedin Academic Press series of introductions to scientific subjects, in particular, the earth sciences. You will probably be aware that I have positively reviewed a large number of them for this website, and this new guide is no different.
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.
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.
The Geologists’ Association is making something of a name for itself when it comes to pushing the envelope in geological publishing in the UK. It has already produced guides to the geology of non-UK locations and I have reviewed a new guide to the roadside geology of Wales. In itself, that was quite a departure, but so is the book under review – a guide to the ‘urban geology’ of Barcelona.
Over a period of 20 years, Ian Tyler has written a series of books on the metalliferous mining industry of the English Lake District and this has clearly been a significant labour of love for him. Unfortunately, Roughton Gill and the Mines of the Caldbeck Fells is his last – the result of the sad loss of his wife and collaborator in this project. However, he has now created an extraordinary record of the geological economic activity in this part of the world.
There are many good guides the geology of the Lake District and this is no exception. It is an illustrated guide to the region’s rocks and an introduction to the common rock types to be found, largely through the use of colour photographs. It also explains how they fit in with the Lake District’s geological history.
It might come as a surprise to the vast majority of the UK population (and probably anyone reading this elsewhere), but this country is a great place for dinosaurs. In fact, it is one of the most important places for Lower Cretaceous dinosaurs, whose remains have been found on the Isle of Wight and in the Weald. A possible Triassic dinosaur has also been found in Morayshire, Scotland, and there are plenty more from the entire length of the Jurassic.
Iceland seems to set the hearts of certain geologists racing and, reading this field guide, it is abundantly clear why. Set out in this concise and authoritative book is the evidence of how this strange piece of rock – astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge – is a “natural laboratory”, where the earth sciences can be watched in dramatic real-time.
I like the GA guides. They are excellent resources for amateurs and professional geologists alike. I frequently browse mine, planning geological trips I will probably never take, because I live in geological unexciting London. Therefore, imagine how pleased I was to receive a GA guide to the Great Metropolis to review.
The author, John L Morton, certainly came to popular geological publishing by an interesting and circuitous route. Trained as a pilot, became the district commissioner for scouts in Horsham and, on retirement, studied a BSc in, among other things, geology. In 2001, on the strength of this book on William Smith, he was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society.
Terry Moxon certainlky likes his agates. It is easy to see his enthusiasm and it is just as easy to appreciate it from this short book on the science of these colourful minerals. However, his is not just a casual interest. He has been involved in their study for 35 years and, for nine of these, has been a research visitor investigating them at the Department of Earth Sciences at Cambridge University.
This is a lovely little book and something of a departure for Dr Dean Lomax, who, these days is more often seen up to his elbows in ichthyosaur remains. However, this fun little book is rather different. Dean (and ably helped by the artwork of Mike Love) has created a full-colour popup book covering the ancestors of many of our favourite pets.
This is a lovely book – a glorious mixture of a beautiful coffee-table book and an academic treatise of the highest quality. But why microfossils? What is it about them that can create such strong feelings?
Mats Erikssön writes fascinatingly quirky articles combining his favourite genre of music and his profession – palaeontology and death (heavy) metal. I am certainly not an expert on the latter, but I do know that, to link the two, is always going to be a bold and humorous conceit.
This is a very ambitious work. The authors discuss the geology of Britain as a “geological legacy”, that is, they believe it is “an inheritance bequeathed to 11 millennia or so of its post-glacial inhabitants”. Therefore, the book covers the geological foundations of its landscape and its raw materials; and how both of these have been used by society and individuals in the visual arts and literature, as well as for mining, quarrying and architecture.
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.
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 book explains that ground conditions for building depend on the history of all these aspects in connection with both the actual building site and the surrounding area. In fact, the book goes into some detail, using colour photographs and block geomodels, to bring the subject to life in what is, I suspect, a somewhat fresh way.
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.