By Peter Kürsteiner and Christian Klug
This is clearly one for our German readers, of which I am glad to say there are many. However, this glossy and excellently produced hardback, covering the fossils of the Alpstein region of Switzerland, may have general appeal to anyone interested in the identification and study of fossils from various parts of the world, despite being written in German.
The Alpstein are a subgroup of the Appenzell Alps in Switzerland, which reach a highest point of 2,502m with the Säntis, making them somewhat lower than other Alpine ranges. However, with the many beautiful, full colour photographs of these mountains (and the many explanatory diagrams) showing the grand sediments and folds, you can hardly go wrong with illustrating such a guide.
Each chapter of Fossils in the Alpstein is written by different experts, covering (among other things): the geology of the Alpstein; its paleogeology and paleogeography; the types of animals alive at the time – with lovely reconstructions of the fauna of the seafloor and water column, and photos of example fossils; and an explanation of the history of geological science in the area, with black and white plates of fossils from old publications and old photos of the geological great and the good.
However, the bulk of book consists of an apparently exhaustive list and lovely photos of the fossils that have been found in the Alpstein – a must for any geologist working in the area or anyone just there to collect fossils.
My German is not particularly good, but it occurred to me as I looked through the pictures of the fossils, that I was feeling a tiny bit like the great geologist, William Smith, as he must have felt when he saw the same fossils occurring in different areas of the UK, thereby creating the science of stratigraphy.
That is, I could see the beauty of biostratigraphy – at least at the level of genus – as I looked at photos from Switzerland of fossils I have collected in the UK, for example, the coral, Thecosmilia, the bivalves, Exogyra and Inoceramus, the nautilus, Eutrephoceras, the ammonites, Hoplites and Hamites, and the echinoid, Echinocorys.
Fossilien im Alpstein: Kreide und Eozän der Nordostschweiz by Peter Kürsteiner and Christian Klug, Appenzeller Medienhaus, Schwellbrunn (2018), 372 pages (hardback), ISBN: 978-3-85882-790-6