By Dean R Lomax
This is a lovely little book – the sort I would want to write. It is beautifully illustrated and well researched, with more than 200 glossy photographs and always interesting comments on the subject matters it touches upon. In short, it is a delight.
Given the geology of the beautiful North Yorkshire coast, it is surprising that Fossils of the Whitby coast is one of the first decent book on its fossils. The Paleontological Society has produced a good one for the Lower Lias of the Dorset coast, but there is clearly a need for something on the equally impressive Upper and Middle Lias of this area.
Therefore, it is great news that the author (and sometime contributor to this magazine) has covered the North Yorkshire coastline, from Staithes in the North, through places like Runswick Bay, to the splendid harbour of Whitby and the geologically iconic Robin Hood’s Bay, ending up at Ravenscar in the South. His little book provides information on each of the best fossil collecting locations, including information on the geology, the chances of finding fossils and access.
If I have a quibble, it is that the guide is aimed a bit too much at the beginner. There are the inevitable (and no doubt necessary) sections on safety, over-collecting, equipment, and so on – things the majority of people reading this review should already know.
However, the best sections are those on the fossils themselves. The pictures and the descriptions are more than enough to inspire anybody, with any level of expertise, to identify and learn about their own paleontological finds. Of course, Dean mentions the ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs and marine crocodiles, but if a novice goes to Whitby expecting to find one, disappointment will ensue. If they go hoping to find an ammonite as a result of this guide – perhaps a Hildoceras or Dactylioceras – then they will come home happy and that is no bad thing.
Obviously, this wonderful coastline deserves at least one full PalAss book, in the same way as it already has an excellent GA field guide. However, I would recommend this little book to even the most experienced fossil collectors. It will fit nicely inside a pocket, as they walk beside the dramatic Yorkshire sea cliffs, with the North Sea for their backdrop.
Fossils of the Whitby coast, by Dean R Lomax, Siri Scientific Press, Manchester, UK, 132 pages (paperback), ISBN: 978-09567795-0-2