Product has been added to the basket

Early Palaeozoic Biogeography and Palaeogeography

tyuPalaeobiogeographers can rejoice, here is a detailed and comprehensive memoir setting out the state of art  of  your ‘craft’. This memoir originates mostly from the work of two International Geoscience Programmes; The Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event [IGCP 410, 1997 -2002] and ‘Ordovician Palaeogeography and Palaeoclimate’ [IGCP 503, 2004 – 2009. It draws together a lot of specialist detail and presents the results of multidisciplinary collaboration between scientists at the leading edge of their game.

There are 26 Chapters, by over 140 authors,  in a densely written format covering dominantly the  Cambrian and Ordovician, with some excursions into the Silurian up to  Pridoli where warranted. These  cover;  Trace Fossils, Stromatoporoidea, Porifera, Corals, Brachiopods, Bryozoa, Echinoderms [superb photography] , Gastropods, Bivalves, Molluscs, Polychaetes, Trilobites, Ostracods, Phyto and Zooplankton, Radiolaria, Graptolites, Cephalopods, Vertebrates and Land Plants.

The central concept is that through the extensive use of similar maps, such as ‘Bugplates,’ [see]  as a basis for  comparison and assessment;  the origin, evolution and  radiative distribution of life forms can be elucidated and hypothesised upon.  Thus a good platform has been established onto which further detail can be built. Read in combination with the considerably more accessible Atlas of Palaeogeography and Lithofacies  [Cope et al. 1992] this should form a defining framework.

Whilst most of the book will be of immediate interest to working and aspiring palaeontologists,   especially those with good palaeobiolexidexterous tendencies. For the rest of us, the best advice is to read the first three chapters, and then dip into the rest slowly.

At this point I would make a plea; for the non-specialist some of the terminology used and concepts described create an entry barrier, this is inevitable in a specialist memoir. However it might be fairly easily rectified with ‘barrier busting’ companion notes placed   on the Geological Society web site. [There is already a significant amount of supplementary material there].  Publications of this type are intended as a communication between experts, but it would be a shame to keep the developing story of the earth’s radiative evolution a ‘secret’ among so few friends.

Reviewed by Arthur Tingley

EARLY PALAEOZOIC BIOGEOGRAPHY AND PALAEOGEOGRAPHY, Harper D.A.T and Servais T [eds.] 2013 Geological Society. London, Memoir, 38.  List price: £125.00; Fellow's price: £62.50 Other societies price: £75.00.


Cope J.C.W., Ingham, J. K. & Rawson, P. F. (eds.) 1992.  Atlas of Palaeogeography and Lithofacies. Geological Society, London, Memoir, 13.