I’ve been waiting for a book like this for a very long time and am delighted that a publication of this quality has now arrived. New books covering British palaeontology are always welcomed by this magazine and we published an article a while ago by the founder of the publisher of this book – David Penney – explaining the need for such guides (see ‘Siri Scientific Press: A UK-based publisher specialising in palaeontology’ in Issue 51).
In fact, this illustrated (in colour) modern overview of the trilobites of Great Britain and Ireland is the first ever and is intended as a comprehensive reference to the 4,400 or so species recorded over the last 300 years. It does not cover every species described during that period – that would be a monumental task. However, it is intended as a detailed overview, with almost 800 photographic images of British and Irish trilobites (taken by Sinclair Stammers), from both historically important collections and newly collected material. In addition, much of the advice is based on Robert Kennedy’s personal experience of collecting trilobites, here and abroad.
More specifically, in the guide, Kennedy uses and explains the stratigraphic names given to the relevant rocks, and the chapters are organised in stratigraphically ascending order. There are also overviews and locality data of classic and less well-known locations, with discussions of their specific fauna. In addition, there are brief biographies of key academic and amateur figures, who have been major contributors to the study of trilobites in Britain, for example, Adam Sedgwick, Roderick Impey Murchison and Charles Lapworth.
The book is intended for both casual admirers and serious collectors, as well as being an academic reference for students and professionals. However, its specific audience is those with an already established general knowledge of this fascinating group of animals, especially their structure and physiology, but this is certainly not necessary to enjoy it.
Robert Kennedy is a retired teacher of science and art, a former Open University lecturer and a retired Principal Curator of Natural History at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. He has also collected trilobites since the early 1970s. Sinclair Stammers is a professional scientific photographer, with a keen interest in trilobites.
Trilobites of the British Isles by Dr Robert Kennedy and Sinclair Stammers, Siri Scientific Press, Edinburgh (2018). 384 pp., softback, ISBN:978-0-9957496-1-0.
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