I like palaeoart. I recently went to the ‘Dinosaurs of China’ exhibition in Nottingham (reviewed in Issue 51 of this magazine) 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.
I always wait expectantly for the publication of a new Palaeontological Association guide to fossils and, when they turn up, I am never disappointed. This is undoubtedly another triumph. This guide attempts to bring the diversity of its flora and fauna together in a single work, for the first time.
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. It’s a great read as it dots about linking places and ideas together, with the link always being the geology.
In this second edition, Dougal Jerram has revised and updated the 2001 version, first published by Alwyn Scarth and Jean-Claude Tanguy. This is to reflect modern research and understanding of Europe’s volcanoes of the last 10,000 years (active, dormant and extinct).
If you, like me, spend much of your palaeontological time collecting Jurassic and Cretaceous cephalopods in the south of the UK (ammonites, belemnites and nautiluses), while dabbling with some Silurian orthocones in Shropshire, you will be delighted at the number of books being published recently about this fascinating group of animals.
This book is truly sumptuous, and yet is also a comprehensive discussion of William Smith’s maps (including the revolutionary ‘A Delineation of the Strata of England and Wales, with part of Scotland’) and career. It is beautifully produced, printed on quality paper and the full colour illustrations are outstanding.
This little guide contains excursion guides explaining and exploring the relationship in the UK between hillslope gully erosion and the response by stream and valley systems within the Howgill Fells of Cumbria. The author’s choice of this area rests on the fact that it is one of the most active landscapes in Britain from the point of view of erosion.
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 (certainly in the UK) as the American author this excellent little biography claims, but she certainly should be better known.
The 71st GA guide has been published and what a good one it is too. It’s not really my area (I prefer palaeontology) and covers quite a specialist subject, but this is certainly interesting. And this is surely the point of GA guides – to cover topics that other publishers might be reluctant to consider.
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, there has been little published for the popular market on Scottish palaeontology.
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?
The Geologists’ Association is making something of a name for itself when it comes to pushing the envelope in geological publishing in the UK. This guide is was quite a departure.
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 is one ‘Special Memoir’ that I am quite willing to make an exception for.
The Jurassic Coast Trust is certainly producing some good books these days. I have alraedy reviewed one (The Jurassic Coast: An Aerial Journey through time by Peter Sills) and I think these two might even be better. As is well known, in recognition of its wonderful geology, the coast between Orcombe Rocks in southeast Devon and Old Harry Rocks in south Dorset was granted World Heritage status in December 2001.
This is an odd little book. Produced by the Craven & Pendle Geological Society and edited by Paul Kabrna, it sets out to cover the geology of Craven Lowlands through a series of chapters written by different contributors.
In recent years, Graham Park has been prolific in his writing for Dunedin Academic Press. In this new tome, he has produced what I suspect is a really great introduction to a range of key concepts and geological processes for both undergraduates and the interested, moderately well-informed amateur.
If you can see past the somewhat robust title (a reference to James Hutton’s discomfort riding around Scotland on horseback during his geological investigations), this is an interesting read, combining both geological science and humour in just about the right measures.
A History of Plants in 50 Fossils would seem to be the follow up to the well-received A History of Life in 100 Fossils. However, this time, this glossy hardback tells the story of plants on earth using significant fossils that are, for the most part, kept at the Natural History Museum in London.
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.
This is the third in a series of earth science books published by Dunedin, the previous two of which (on palaeontology and geology) have been reviewed in this magazine. I said of those books that they were excellent little volumes for the beginner and the amateur, and the current book is no different.
The long awaited PalAss guide to Wealden fossil flora and fauna has finally arrived and what a magnificent tome it is. At 769 pages and 35 chapters, 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 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.
The Jurassic Coast Trust has produced a truly fascinating little picture book illustrating the geology of this World Heritage Site.
It has the shape, form and feel of a holiday souvenir book – the sort you buy in tourist information shops to commemorate your visit with pictures of the sites you didn’t have time to see – and there is also plenty of information for the curious visitor who wants to learn more about the earth science of the area.
This is a third, revised edition of a very successful, introductory-level geology guide, in which the author has taken the opportunity to revise and update the text, and to substitute improved illustrations for some of the old ones.
There are many good guides the geology of the Lake District and this is no exception. However, this is first and foremost 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.
This is the second of a two-part series of monographs on spiders (and arachnids more generally) involving Dr David Penney – the other is reviewed next to this. This one is written with Jason Dunlop, who has described numerous new fossil species in a variety of arachnid groups, from scorpions to harvestmen, to mites and even some extinct groups.
This is another of Dr David Penney’s (founder and owner of the excellent Siri Scientific Press, whose books I have frequently reviewed in this magazine) books on fossil spiders and insects.
This is the first of a two-part series of monographs on spiders (and arachnids more generally) involving Dr David Penney and published by Siri Scientific Press. This one is written with Dr Paul Selden, who has more than 30 years of researching, and teaching about, fossil arachnids.
This is another excellent guide produced by Dunedin Academic press, to go along with the other two reviewed on this page. This one provides, at an introductory level, a succinct and readable guide to metamorphism.
Sea level change is something that probably everyone who does their best to keep up to date about climate change, thinks they know about and on which they will have an opinion.