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Terrestrial Conservation Lagerstatten: Windows into the Evolution of Life on Land

Nicholas Fraser, Hans-Dieter Sues

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28 Sep 2017
Dunedin Academic Press
450 pages - 260 x 200mm

Evolutionary biologists have long been concerned by the incompleteness of the fossil record. Although our knowledge of the diversity of life in ‘deep time’ has improved, many lineages of extant animals and plants still have only sparse fossil documentation. Even groups with ‘hard parts’ that render them suitable for fossilization often only have a limited record. Thus, although the fossil record is viewed as critical to the reconstruction of the evolutionary history of life, many biologists question its utility. Fortunately discoveries of occurrences of exceptionally preserved fossils, known as conservation Lagerstätten (Konservat-Lagerstätten), shed much light on the past diversity of life. This volume reviews selected conservation Lagerstätten for terrestrial animals and plants throughout the Phanerozoic worldwide and includes sites in Asia, Europe and North and South America. Together the papers demonstrate the enormous progress made in recent years both in documenting the biodiversity of such extraordinary fossil deposits and also in elucidating the geological conditions for and biogeochemical processes behind the formation of conservation Lagerstätten. Each contribution has been written by eminent palaeontologists who have enlisted additional expertise to make each chapter as comprehensive as possible.

N.B. Some corrections are available to this book and may be found at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/m2tyxmjw1d5jxk0/AADHILDHUw_VMxbj9FOWhYila?dl=0

Introduction. Chapter 1: The Rhynie and Windyfield cherts, Early Devonian, Rhynie, Scotland (Nigel H. Trewin and Hans Kerp); Chapter 2: The East Kirkton Lagerstätte: a window onto Early Carboniferous land ecosystems (Jennifer A. Clack); Chapter 3: Triassic life in an inland lake basin of the warm-temperate biome: the Madygen Lagerstätte, Southwest Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia (Sebastian Voigt, Michael Buchwitz, Jan Fischer, Ilja Kogan, Philippe Moisan, Jörg W. Schneider, Frederik Spindler, Andreas Brosig, Marvin Preusse, Frank Scholze and Ulf Linnemann); Chapter 4: The Solite Quarry – a window into life by a late Triassic lake margin (Nicholas C. Fraser, David A. Grimaldi, Brian J. Axsmith, Andrew B. Heckert, Cynthia Liutkus- Pierce, Dena Smith, Alton C. Dooley Jr.); Chapter 5: The Yanliao Biota: a trove of exceptionally preserved Middle-Late Jurassic terrestrial life forms (Xing Xu, Zhonghe Zhou, Corwin Sullivan, and Yuan Wang); Chapter 6: The Jehol Biota: an exceptional window into Early Cretaceous terrestrial ecosystems (Zhonghe Zhou, Yuan Wang, Xing Xu, and Dong Ren); Chapter 7: The Santana Formation (David M. Martilland Paulo M. Brito); Chapter 8: The Messel Pit Fossil Site (Stephan F. K. Schaal); Chapter 9: Extraordinary Lagerstätten in Amber, with particular reference to the Cretaceous of Burma (David A. Grimaldi and Andrew J. Ross).Index
Edited by Nicholas C. Fraser of the National Museum of Scotland and Hans-Dieter Sues of the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

‘Overall, this book is a great overview of nine of the most impressive fossil sites in the world. Each chapter provides a bit of the history of fossil-collecting, the geology, and a run-down of the taxa identified at the site so far. The volume is loaded with big color photographs of gorgeously preserved specimens, making it a great book to peruse even if only for the pictures. It also serves as a general reference for each of the sites, although has quite a bit of taxonomic jargon that may be cumbersome for those unfamiliar with each of the biotas concerned. There is also a fair bit of anatomical terminology that some readers may be less familiar with, e.g., those concerning plant reproduction or insect organs. These make it a difficult read for non-paleontologists but should be fine for the intended scientific audience. Even if the taxonomic group in question is out of your area, the chapters still provide useful information pointing you to delve in further if interested. I recommend this book for anyone particularly interested in taphonomy, evolution of life on land, and/or fantastic pictures of really exceptional fossils.’
Palaeontologia Electronica

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