February 1991
139 black and white, 5 line illustrations
328 pages
24.4x16.2 cm
Fossils Illustrated
ISBN: 9780851152622
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press


Writing in the Rocks

Edited by Douglas Palmer, Barrie Rickards

out of stock

Graptolites lived in the earth's oceans from 540 million years ago to 320 million years ago, when they became extinct. For most of that time they dominated the upper layers of the ocean in tropical regions as the earth's first large zooplankton. They varied from a few millimetres in length to more than a metre; they lived by the countless billion, and their skeletons are preserved today in vast numbers in varied strata in every continent except Antarctica. Because of their diversity, they are a powerful correlative tool: units of time of much less than a million years are identifiable, and within individual rock sequences evolutionary changes can be studied, which makes them of prime importance to economic geologists. Graptolites are, however, still the subject of lively debate — little is established about their lives, and although skeletons abound, the soft parts of only one graptolite have been found — in deposits 500 million years old in Tasmania. As well as providing a full summary of the current state of knowledge relating to graptolites, the team of specialists who contribute to this book also address the biological questions raised by these fossils, and provide pointers for further research. Contents: Part I. The Organism: Definition and appearance; Preservation; Construction; Distribution; Biology; Evolution; Relationship to other organisms; Sex life. Part II. The Fossil: Collection and preparation; Identification; Correlative uses. Appendices: Glossary of technical terms; Where to find them in Britain and other countries; Classification and evolution; Further reading.
BARRIE RICKARDS is Reader in Palaeobiology, University of Cambridge, and curator of the Sedgwick Museum of Geology. DOUGLAS PALMER is a freelance geologist and writer.


`No group needed modern techniques of illustration including scanning electron microscopy, more than the graptolites and these plates must be eye-opening to many of us...beautiful examples of the cleared specimens'. Eric Robinson GEO. ASS. CIRC. Sept 1991`The book includes almost everything that is important for a general understanding of graptolites and with its fine illustrations will be useful for those who are instructing students or who are just collecting fossils.' David L. Clark SCIENCE (US)`d'un ouvrage très informatif, joliment présenté,' ANNALES DE PALEONTOLOGIE vol 77, fasc 3, 1991`clearly succeeds as an accessible and authoritative source for those non-specialists seeking information on the graptolites, and I would strongly recommend it for all institutional libraries, from schools to universities. For individual professionals it will provide a wealth of reference and teaching material'. GEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 27:1 '92