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 – the other is reviewed at: Fossil Arachnids: Monograph Series Vol 2. This one is written with Dr Paul Selden, who has more than 30 years of researching, and teaching about, fossil arachnids.

The ‘Bracklesham Beds’ are a series of predominantly soft silty sands and clayey silts laid down in a sub-tropical shallow marine environment around 46Ma. Fossils are readily eroded and can be found loose on the beach along with modern sea shells. The guide has simple maps to direct fossil hunters to the best areas for surface-picking and likely exposures when the beach sand has been removed.

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.

This Dunedin Academic press guide provides, at an introductory level, a succinct and readable guide to metamorphism. As readers will know, metamorphic rocks are one of the three main types of rocks.

I have to admit, I was beginning to wonder where Prof Rory Mortimore’s update of his excellent Chalk of Sussex and Kent was. And now I know. It wasn’t a second edition he was working on, but this magnificent magnum opus in two volumes covering a vastly greater area than that other guide. And the wait was more than worthwhile. The thoroughness, writing quality, content and publication standards are superb.

Dr David Penney, founder and owner of the excellent Siri Scientific Presshas writen about Miocene spider inclusions in amber from deposits of the Dominican Republic. This is one of the many books on fossil spiders and insects that Siri Scientific Press publishes.

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. That is it the man.

Growing up, I collected and purchased trilobite fossils for my own personal collection, to learn about and understand prehistoric life. They were to me, and still are, a fascinating group of fossils to examine and wonder about how the myriad of different forms evolved.

I like palaeoart. A while ago, I went to the ‘Dinosaurs of China’ exhibition in Nottingham 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.

Professor Robert Diffendal Jr’s little guidebook to the Great Plains of the USA makes for a fascinating read for an Englishman like me, who has never been there (but wants to). He makes it plain that they rarely correspond to the impression most people have of them.

This is another of the GA’s short guides, being only 21 pages long and therefore easy to put in a cagoule pocket. Importantly, the five excursions described in the guide are centred on the city of Plymouth. Therefore, the logistics necessary to visit the itineraries should be relatively easy.

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).

The Crowood Press are really developing a nice little series of books on the landscape and geology of select regions of the British Isles, and Tony Waltham’s addition to the series about the Peak District is well worth a read. This new one follows the same format as the others – beautiful, full colour photos and diagrams, a fascinating chapter on each of the important geological and geomorphological aspects of the area (including buildings and industry), and an author who knows his stuff and can write it down with an easy and authoritative style.

This GA guide is stated to be a “Geology Teaching Trail”. Well, it may be, but when I ambled along the trail with the guide in my hand, I certainly wasn’t in a teaching situation. Rather, I was out for a nice walk and a guide to explain what I was seeing. And it did just that and the classic Silurian/Ordovician unconformity you can see was just that. Classic!

Shropshire is one of my favourite areas for both geology and fossil collecting. The Silurian of this beautiful area is fascinating and, if you can get permission to get into one of the commercial quarries (and you will need permission), then the results will be remarkable.

West Dorset is rightly famous for its fossils, but few people visit its wonderful, fossiliferous cliffs to look at them as landforms, rather than as an endless source of ammonites and belemnites. This guide does just that and, covers a series of itineraries in the context of landform type.

Ever since Charles Darwin pointed out the problem, evolutionary biologists have been worried by the incompleteness of the fossil record. Fortunately, discoveries of formations containing exceptionally preserved fossils (conservation Lagerstätten) have provided fascinating and important information on the history life’s diversity.

After having favourably reviewed the first two books in this three part series, I must admit I was very much looking forward to the publication of this last one. And, of course, I wasn’t disappointed. This is the third in a series of guides to safe and responsible fossil collecting along (this time), the East Dorset coast from the Chalk cliffs at Bat’s Head, across what are some of Dorset’s more remote coastal locations, to Hengistbury Head.