The fossil bearing rocks of the British Isles contain the remains of life from the last 2,900Ma and the UK is seen by many as the cradle of modern geology. With this is mind and using a geological map of Britain, palaeontologist Peter Doyle offers a comprehensive guide to UK fossils.

Red Coast Revealed

The Jurassic Coast Trust has certainly producing some good books. 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. In this respect, these two guides cover the western and the eastern thirds of this remarkable coastline.

This is another of GA’s guides, this time to the geology and geomorphology of the popular holiday destination of the Castleton Area in Derbyshire. I love this area and have visited there both for the geology and the beautiful scenery.

There are only a few good books on the London Clay and its fossils, but this little guide from the Geologists’ Association is a good start for beginners, children and teenagers. Rockwatch, which published this guide, is the national geology club for young people, the junior club of the GA. Having said that, this guide does not dumb down the information it contains.

This is certainly a somewhat different sort of book from those I usually review. As it makes clear, women have always played key roles in the field of vertebrate palaeontology, going back centuries. However, other than perhaps the most best known historical female vertebrate palaeontologists, comparatively little is known about these women scientists. As a result, their true contributions have probably been obscured. In this context, the book aims to reveal this hidden history, thereby celebrating the diversity and importance of women VPs.

The island of Cyprus is a truly classic area of geology in Europe. Perhaps nowhere else on Earth does so small an area provide such an excellent illustration of the dynamics of Earth processes through abundant exposures of spectacular and diverse geology.

As the author says, “The abundance and diversity of Foraminifera … make them uniquely useful in studies of modern marine environments and the ancient rock record”. And this book represents an interesting, enjoyable and informative ‘one-stop-shop’ treatment of precisely that subject.

This was the first GA guide I ever bought, and I suspect it is still the best. My copy is more than well-thumbed and water-damaged, through many a happy trip to the south of England to collect, what a friend describes as “white fossils in white rock”.

Graptolites lived in the earth’s oceans from 540 million years ago to 320 million years ago, when they became extinct. The book provides a summary of the state of knowledge relating to graptolites, and the specialists, who contribute to the book, also address the biological questions raised by these fossils, and provide pointers for further research.

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.

The second edition of Microfossils, published in 2005, is still the definitive guide to all the major microfossil groups and the essential reference tool and laboratory guide for undergraduate and graduate students of micropalaeontology.

I have known Neale Monks for many years. He knows his stuff and some of that stuff is ammonites. Their beautiful spiral shells make them among the most sought after. However, until this book was published in 2002, little had been published about ammonites other than in geological journals.

The very small number of books published by the Medway Fossil and Mineral Society are without exception, wonderful and this is probably the best. And, there are very few guides on the London Clay. Therefore, this guide is invaluable and more than welcome.

South Wales is a great place to do geology, both because of the variety of what can be seen and the general beauty of the area and its surrounds. In fact, the sedimentary rocks here (largely from the Palaeozoic and late Triassic/Lower Jurassic) were deposited in a wide range of environments, for example, deep-sea fans, clastic-carbonate shelf seas, beaches, estuaries and deltas, and rivers and floodplain swamps, to name but a few.

Maybe it’s a result of my social anthropology and geological background, but I found this difficult but fascinating book a great read. It’s about nineteenth century India. It is not about the modern geological science or social anthropology of the subcontinent, but rather, the geological imagination of India, as well as its landscapes and people, and its history.

I wish I had this book when I was starting out collecting fossils. It has everything and more you need to take your hobby (and, who know, later a career in palaeontology) to a better, and more advance and fulfilling place. While I will never take the record-keeping and note taking to the levels gently suggested in this very readable book, perhaps if I had read this when I was a teenager, perhaps I would have done.

This small, yet informative, booklet takes you on a four-mile walk to 13 sites and through 15 million years of Earth history. The Mortimer Forest Trail is a geology trail in Shropshire that is famous for its outstanding fossils and varied geology. The trail mostly examines Silurian formations such as the Wenlock and Ludlow series.

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.