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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

If Yorkshire really is ‘God’s Own County’, then clearly the Almighty is an extremely enthusiastic geologist. Just how lucky is the Yorkshire man who, on the same day, can see some of the best and most varied geology in the world, set out in glorious coastal and mountain scenery, collect superb fossils and minerals, and still be back in the pub in time for some of the best real ale in the UK? That is, Yorkshire is a geological gem that needs a good geological guide.

Introducing Natural Resources is another in the Dunedin Academic Press series of introductions to scientific subjects, in particular, the earth sciences. You will probably be aware that I have positively reviewed a large number of them for this website, and this new guide is no different.

This is an interesting book for those of us who are curious about the complex origins, variety and geological history of the continent of Europe. In particular, it covers and explains the background to its distinct regions and landscapes – from the flat plains of Northern Europe to the Alps and related mountains of the south.

I love geomorphology. I suspect many people are discouraged by its scientific name, but all it means is the study of the earth’s landforms and the processes that create the landscapes we see today. That is, why this coastline looks different from that, why that mountain is a funny shape, why Africa seems to fit into South America like a jigsaw, and so on and so forth.

This is a third, revised edition of a very successful, introductory-level geology guide. In it, the author has taken the opportunity to revise and update the text, and to substitute improved illustrations for some of the old ones.

I wouldn’t say I know Paul Taylor other than as an editor of his articles for Deposits magazine, but I did once go on a fieldtrip with him, more years ago than I care to remember. It was to the Coralline Crag of Suffolk, which was chock full of bryozoans – Paul’s favourite fossil. And very interesting it was too – as was Paul. Therefore, I am not surprised how fascinating this book turns out to be.

Introducing Mineralogy continues the high standard set by its predecessors in the Dunedin series of guides introducing aspects of the different sciences, especially the earth sciences. It is slightly larger than some of the others, but is still beautifully illustrated, nicely written and very informative.

This is a brief guide explaining how the reader may collect meaningful data at outcrop level and make provisional identifications of common lithologies. It is not intended as a comprehensive field geology textbook and assumes that readers have already studied geological theory (and, as such, is probably most useful of the undergraduate, but could be interesting for anyone interested in geology).

Introducing Meteorology

The format of Dunedin books is always the same – authorative, but easy to understand text, interspersed by bold, full colour diagrams and photographs. And the topics of oceanography and meteorology certainly complement each other. The planet is two-thirds covered by water and the energy it contains massively affects the way the Earth system (especially climate) works.

Dunedin publishes a series of ‘Guide to’ books that are excellent little volumes for the beginner and the amateur, and this one is no different. Written by the ubiquitous volcano specialist, Dougal Jerram (aka Dr Volcano), it is a nice little summary of the basics of the science of volcanology.

I have been lucky enough to review several books by Dunedin – the others being on palaeontology, geology and volcanology. And this is as good as the others. However, it is not an easy book to read. The illustrations are, as always, superb – colourful and clear – but this book is more suitable for the more mathematically and scientifically minded, especially those who enjoy the science of engineering.

Once upon a time, I would have said that the only reason to buy this sort of guide is to look at the (black and white) photos of dinosaurs and their bones, and learn about the terrestrial life of what is now the Isle of Wight. However, this is obviously wrong. Of course it is possible for amateurs, as well as professionals, to find dinosaur bones on the beaches of the island.