Book review: Fossils Alive! New walks in an Old Field, by Nigel H Trewin

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Jon Trevelyan (UK)

In this book, you will travel back millions of years in time to join wildlife safaris and visit, as though a time-traveller, ancient environments teeming with life. As the fossils come alive, you will experience and understand the fauna, flora and landscapes seen at ten localities in the geological past of Scotland.

You will catch fish in a Devonian lake 380mya in Caithness; escape a great tsunami at Helmsdale following a Jurassic earthquake; and then explore the Carboniferous forests, rivers and volcanoes of Edinburgh. On the Isle of Skye, you will wander a Jurassic shoreline and see a dinosaur dine. You will observe the nuptial dance of ammonites from a submersible; pick your way around ancient hot-spring pools and geysers in Aberdeenshire; and admire some of the first plants and animals to inhabit the land. The ten areas visited in this book represent some of the most famous fossiliferous locations in Scotland.

These imaginative stories are accompanied by pictures of fossils and of the places as they are seen today together with the author’s careful reconstructive drawings of these ancient environments. The safaris are presented as stories, but they are firmly based on published scientific evidence relating to the fossils and rocks of Scotland. The book will appeal to students, academics and amateurs interested in fossils, ecology and the ancient environments that have existed at different times in the past on our planet.

The author is a professor of geology at the University of Aberdeen. His research has focussed on ancient environments and ecosystems, particularly the Devonian Old Red Sandstone of Scotland. At the university, he has taught geology and led field excursions for students, industry and non-specialists for nearly forty years.

Fossils Alive! New walks in an Old Field, by Nigel H. Trewin, Dunedin Academic Press Edinburgh (2008), 211 pages (hardback), ISBN: 978-1903765883

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