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Planet Earth in Deep Time - Palaeozoic Series, Devonian & Carboniferous

fyukdjhThis book is a result of a UNESCO/IUGS project on climate change and biodiversity in the mid-Palaeozoic (IGCP Project 596). The first thing that strikes you about the book is the high quality to which it has been reproduced. 

There is a brief introduction to the rationale behind the project and a systematic review of the fossil groups, followed by an introduction to the key areas of Mid-Palaeozoic sedimentary occurrences worldwide. The project entailed a large-scale taxonomic, stratigraphic and palaeoecological study of mid-Palaeozoic floras and faunas.  This has been marvellously condensed into 86 contributions detailing the scope of the project in the individual countries.  These contributions detail representative geological sections or regions and the variety of locations covered can only be described as breathtaking!

I was initially unsure how the book would work, having as it does translations of the IGCP project 596 project summary interspersed among the descriptions of the localities, in a number of different languages.  This does not however affect the readability of the text.  Indeed I find part of this book’s appeal is that it has been developed for a wide ranging audience, with descriptions of localities and regions in both the native language and English. The book oozes quality from every page. It is a book that can be read at leisure and that will leave the reader wanting to find out more about the localities detailed. I suspect that one of the most difficult jobs for the editors was coming up with a shortlist of localities – they are all of such high quality.

The authors ‘intend to enhance the visibility and the perception of research on mid-Palaeozoic deposits beyond the Earth Science community’ – and they have managed to do this with aplomb. The book is accessible to the interested layperson and is very much a book that could be picked up and understood by someone with a basic level of geological understanding. The quality of the images of the locations is superb and the addition of a palaeogeographic map for each location/region helps the reader to build a picture of the mid-Palaeozoic world. Even more appealing are the artistic reconstructions, characterising the biosphere of the Devonian and Carboniferous – these are quite simply stunning and I would venture to say are worth the purchase price of the book alone.

Quite simply this is an amazing book, suitable for anyone with an interest in the development of our planet – I cannot recommend it highly enough!

Reviewed by Gordon Neighbour

PLANET EARTH - IN DEEP TIME (PALAEOZOIC SERIES - DEVONIAN & CARBONIFEROUS) by T J Suttner, E Kido, P Königshof, J A Waters, L Davis, and F Messner (Eds). ISBN: 978-3-510-65335-5 Publisher: Schweizerbart Science Publishers W: RRP: €49.90