The views expressed by the authors of any article on this
website are their own and do not necessarily represent
those of The Micropalaeontological Society
- Alvarez, W. - T. Rex and the Crater of Doom
- Benton, M. J. - Vertebrate Palaeontology: (Second Edition)
- Bornmalm, L. - Taxonomy and Palaeoecology of Late Neogene Benthic Foraminifera from the Caribbean Sea and Eastern Equatorial Pacific Ocean
- Boudagher-Fadel, M. K. et al. - The Early Evolutionary History of Planktonic Foraminifera
- Brett, C. E. & Baird, G. C. (eds) - Paleontological Events: Stratigraphic, Ecological and Evolutionary Implications
- Holborn, A. E. L. & Kaminski, M. A. - Lower Cretaceous Deep-Water Benthic Foraminifera of the Indian Ocean
- Podobina, V. M. et al. (eds) - Rauzer-Chernousova Memorial Volume
- Rigby, S. - Fossils: the Story of Life
- Siveter, D. J. & Williams, M. - Cambrian Bradoriid and Phosphatocopid Arthropods of North America
- Tomas, C. R. (ed.) - Identifying Marine Phytoplankton
- Widmark, J. G. V. - Deep-Sea Benthic Foraminifera from Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary Strata in the South Atlantic - Taxonomy and Paleoecology
Evolution A Phylogenetic Approach
R. D. M. Page & E. C. Holmes 1998
Blackwell Science, ISBN 0-86542-889-1, soft covers, 346pp.
Molecular genetics is a rampantly productive
field of science, contributing to every aspect of biology.
Increasingly this is even reaching micropalaeontology.
Molecular phylogenies are providing new evidence to
solve long-standing problems in large scale relationships,
and in many cases are radically changing our understanding
of the macroevolution of the groups we study. The outstanding
fossil record of microfossils makes integration of fossil
and molecular evidence particularly intriguing and the
best calibrations of the molecular clock should come
from microfossil studies. Investigations of species-level
genetic variability can revolutionise our understanding
of microevolutionary pattern and process, with direct
consequences for even the most pragmatic aspect of our
subject - biostratigraphy. Consequently micropalaeontologists
increasingly need to be able to use and understand the
outputs of molecular genetic studies. In particular,
being able to intelligently understand a molecular tree
is becoming an essential skill. So a useful guide to
the subject is something many of us feel a need for.
This book comes close to being the
ideal reference. It is directly focused on the most
relevant aspects of the field, being intended as an
high-level textbook of phylogenetic analysis of molecular
data. The heart of the book are chapters on the steps
from genetic data to phylogenetic trees: aligning sequences;
measuring genetic distance; and the minutiae of tree
building. In these areas the book is an innovative state
of the art summary and probably the best available reference.
In addition the book provides excellent reviews of the
relevant aspects of gene structure, population genetics,
and models of molecular evolution. In these areas larger
alternative textbooks are available, but the book provides
an excellent well-focused synthesis. In contrast, the
practicalities of molecular genetic research - DNA isolation,
amplification, and sequencing are only dealt with very
briefly, an omission I rather regretted. More predictably
there is also no discussion of the problems when dealing
with marine protists of obtaining cultures from which
to isolate DNA in the first place, or of eliminating
symbionts. For most microfossil groups these are, however,
key practical problems. The book is carefully structured,
it is well-illustrated with clear diagrams, most of
which have been specially drawn, and text boxes are
used to good effect. As a result much of the content
can be derived by browsing the figures and text boxes.
This is fortunate since the main text is tough going
and dry, not actually unreadable, but certainly not
Micropalaeontologists who are actively
involved in phylogenetic research, or who need to teach
short courses in the subject, will find this book absolutely
invaluable and should buy a copy, if they have not already
done so. But the over-worked scientist who feels a general
need to learn more of the subject, rather than a pressing
necessity, would probably find it too detailed and indigestible.
The Natural History Museum, UK
Cycles: Linkages of Dynamic Stratigraphy with Atmospheric,
Oceanic and Tectonic Changes
Ed Landing and Markes Johnson (eds) 1998. James Hall Centennial
Volume, New York State Museum Bulletin 491, ISSN 0278-3355,
ISBN 1-55557-206-5, ix+327pp.
Everything comes in cycles. Dean Martin
has recently enjoyed a resurgence of appreciation, and
members of my family tell me that even flares can again
occasionally be worn without (too much) embarrassment.
So it was in the Silurian - anyone looking for long
at sedimentation or biotic turnover in rocks of this
age can readily discern patterns of repetition at various
scales. These simple observations have recently spawned
a plexus of explanatory hypotheses, varying from eustatic
sea-level changes to climatic oscillations to tectonic
pulses, or involving various combinations of these factors.
This burgeoning interest clearly meant
that the time was ripe for a get-together to discuss
the patterns and their causes, and it was eminently
appropriate that Markes Johnson, who has done much over
the past decade to publicise and analyse Silurian cyclicity,
should be the scientist to arrange the forum for the
debate. And so it was that the Second International
Symposium on the Silurian System, held at the University
of Rochester, New York, in 1996, took cycles as its
primary theme. The volume under review documents the
science presented in a poster session and workshop on
Silurian cyclicity mounted at the Rochester conference,
supplemented by a few papers solicited by the editors
to 'round out the collection'.
And it is, indeed, a pretty round set
of articles. The papers cover all the major themes,
and tackle cyclicity at local to global level. There
is some variation in quality, but all the contibutors
provide something of interest and there is quite a lot
of new information. The volume is divided into four
parts: Physical evidence for Silurian eustasy, Temporal
faunal patterns related to eustasy, Short-term cycles,
Isotope studies. As will be evident from these headings,
there is an inclination towards hypotheses of (at least
partially glacially driven) sea-level cyclicity, but
climatic changes and tectonic influences also get a
hearing. There is, perhaps, an over-enthusiasm to take
the published sea-level curves as established, rather
than as hypotheses for testing, with some authors bending
backwards almost horizontally to make their data fit
the expected pattern; but the discerning reader is usually
provided with enough information to draw his/her own
conclusions about how good the correspondence really
I'm not sure that this newsletter is
the place to detail the contents of each paper; suffice
it to say that anyone interested in the Silurian biota,
Silurian biostratigraphy, and any aspect of palaeo-cyclicity
will find this an indispensible volume. What I'm going
to do instead is climb onto a familiar hobby-horse and
rant about what really strikes me as a micropalaeontologist
about this collection of papers - this is, of course,
the near-absence of the consideration of any evidence
Actually, this is not strictly true,
as ostracods get an occasional mention and conodonts
are reasonably well represented, especially in Lennart
Jeppsson's summary of his ocean/atmosphere cyclicity
model which is primarily based on an analysis of the
conodont record (and also, diabolically, in Tesakov
et al.'s error-strewn contribution on the East Siberian
Basin, in which Silurian conodont biostratigraphy is
completely re-written in an apparent attempt to make
sea-level curves match). But, otherwise, the emphasis
is clearly on the invertebrate macrofauna, as a quick
glance at the titles of papers demonstrates: they mention
graptoloids, cephalopods, gastropods, trilobites and
reefs, while a flick through other papers shows that
brachiopods continue to be regarded as especially significant.
I do not decry the evidence that these elements of the
biota undoubtedly provide, but I searched in vain for
more than a sideways nod in the whole book to the importance
of acritarchs, prasinophyte algae, chitinozoans or scolecodonts.
This is not the fault of the symposium organisers, the
editors, or the contributors; it's ours. We are surely
missing an opportunity here to champion the fundamental
import of the phytoplankton, in particular, in reflecting,
and probably in influencing, the development of cyclicity
in ancient oceans. Sure, it's difficult to interpret
the record, but there's a mass of information out there
that certainly has something to tell us if we only make
the effort to understand it. Having said this, I'm delighted
to see that palynologists are now beginning to enter
the debate in a major way, as is exemplified by the
stimulating recent paper by Dorning and Harvey (1999)
on Wenlock cyclicity.
So to a final comment. Another major
message that comes through to me from the James Hall
Centennial Volume is that the development and testing
of our theories on Silurian cyclicity are currently
severely handicapped by the limitations of the exisiting
framework of biostratigraphical correlation. For example,
in the very first paper, Johnson et al. present a very
interesting approach to testing Silurian eustasy using
the burial and erosion of coastal margins, but the results
are manifestly marred by the uncertainties and inaccuracies
of dating the inundations of rocky shorelines worldwide.
Elsewhere, it is evident that difficulties in making
accurate correlations between graptolitic and shelly
sequences can confuse interpretations. However, we are
unquestionably struggling successfully towards a greater
understanding of Silurian cyclicity, and open debate
on the issues raised in this volume will undoubtedly
propel us further forwards in unravelling the complexity
of factors that have influenced the record we have been
bequeathed to study. An improving biostratigraphy will
clearly help us in this endeavour, and, micropalaeontologists,
we surely have a role to fulfil here as well!
Dorning, K. J., and Harvey, C. 1999. Wenlock cyclicity,
palynology, and stratigraphy in the Buildwas, Coalbrookdale,
and Much Wenlock Limestone formations, Shropshire, England.
Bolletino della Societa Paleontologica Italiana, 38,
University of Leicester, UK
of Africa: v. 26
Palaeoecology of Africa and the Surrounding Islands
Volume 26, edited by L. Scott, A. Cadman and R. Verhoeven,
1999. Published by A.A. Balkema Uitgevers B.V., Rotterdam.
ISBN 90 5410 476 7. Price: 75 Euros. xiii + 260 pp
This bright yellow curiosity landed
on my desk unannounced. It comprises a series of papers
presented at the 3rd Conference on African Palynology
held at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, in
September 1997. The volume starts with a Foreword and
Preface, and an Obituary on Hermann Flohn (1912-1997)
a Member of the Advisory Editorial Board of Palaeoecology
of Africa. The bulk of the book is divided into three
parts: Palaeopalynology (three papers), Quaternary and
Recent Palynology (seven papers), and Pollen Morphology
(seven papers), as well as three book reviews tucked
in at the end. There is not an index. Generally speaking
the presentation of the volume is very good with mostly
excellent plate quality (although, regrettably, there
are not many of these).
The three palaeopalynology papers are
by Jim Doyle (The rise of angiosperms as seen in the
African Cretaceous pollen record) - a rather wordy keynote
contribution; Veena Srivastava and Emma Msaky (Albian-Cenomanian
microfloral assemblages from Coastal Tanzania) - subsurface
assemblages rich in pteridophyte spores, gymnosperm
and angiosperm pollen, as well as dinoflagellate cysts,
but with plates of a substandard quality;and R.E Dunay,
P.A.R. Brenac and P.G. Edwards (Palynology and micropalaeontology
of the Messinian-Zanclean sequences offshore Equatorial
Guinea). The last paper is the most impressive from
my point of view and comprises a reservoir-scale study
of the Zafiro area. Although age constraints are poor
(abundant Pediastrum are characteristic), the authors
present an interesting account of the palaeoenvironments
and their impact on a predictive model for reservoir
sandstone distribution. Essentially, the reservoir sequence
is governed by incised submarine canyons (originated
during Messinian sea level drop), infilled by sediments
transported from coastal plain settings. This paper
is a neat example of the application of micropaleontology
to sequence stratigraphy and reservoir modelling, and
deserves a wider audience. I suspect, however, it may
sink without much notice in this book. If applied micropaleontology
is your bent, I recommend you check the volume out,
if only for the value of the Dunay et al. paper.
in Production and Development Geology
edited by R.W. Jones and M.D. Simmons, 1999. Geological
Society Special Publication No. 152. ISBN 1-86239-031-2.
Price: £70. 318 pp.
This excellent volume is the result
of a very successful meeting of the Geological Society's
Petroleum Group (Biostratigraphy in Production and Development
Geology) held at Aberdeen University in June 1997. There
are sixteen diverse papers and a decent looking index.
All the papers are of excellent quality and some include
colour diagrams. There are not many plates, but those
present are generally very good; the exception being
the palynological plates in the paper by Simmons et
al. - the figures must have been taken using a filthy
microscope, and embarrassingly one of them finds its
way onto the front of the book. Even one of the Magnus
Field Trochammina specimens would have been better!
When the volume first appeared, the
price of oil had plummeted, and the it had rather an
'end of an era' feel about it - the end of the golden
years of biostratigraphy perhaps, and indeed there are
some golden papers in this collection. The first paper
by Simon Payne, Dave Ewan and Mike Bowman (The role
and value of 'high-impact biostratigraphy' in reservoir
appraisal and development) sets the tone and deserves
a special mention (although the phrase 'high-impact
biostratigraphy' still makes me squirm; it's defined
by Payne et al. as "The alignment of high-resolution
biostratigraphy with the attainment of business goals").
Despite the jargon, the authors have an important message
for the application of biostratigraphy which should
be noted by any practising biostratigrapher in the industry
today (and their clients - the geologists, geophysicists
and reservoir engineers). Payne et al. summarize their
approach as follows:
a. keep the focus on understanding
the business aim - what questions need to be answered?
b. think field scale and field specific, and push the
c. think 'bioevents' not 'biozonation'
d. communicate confidence limits on your data points
e. integrate and iterate with other geoscience
f. realize the 'technology' can work at the well site.
The rest of the volume essentially
comprises a series of case histories, eleven from the
North Sea (including Payne et al.), two from Nigeria
and one each from Borneo, Venezuela, and the Gulf of
Mexico. Without exception, all these contributions are
excellent. I haven't seen a better collection of applied
biostratigraphy papers since the Gulf Coast Section
of SEPM's 'Innovative biostratigraphic approaches to
sequence analysis: new exploration opportunities' published
back in 1987. The volume should be at the desk of every
industrial biostratigrapher at work today. Whether it
would be of interest to geologists, geophysicist and
reservoir engineers is debateable as there is a high
technical quotient. However, if biostratigraphers keep
the message of Payne et al. in mind, the impact of biostratigraphy
in reservoir and development studies is likely to get
higher and higher.
the Stratigraphical Record: Advances in Modern Stratigraphy
edited by Peter Doyle and Matthew R. Bennett, 1998.
John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 0 471 97463 3. Price: £24.95
(paperback). viii + 532 pp.
I wish they had had books like this
when I was an undergraduate (mind you, I wish they had
had sequence stratigraphy then too!). A lot has changed
in stratigraphy in the 20+ years since I graduated,
and this volume is a useful compendium of many of these
changes. The editors describe the volume as not so much
an introduction to the subject, but rather as an exploration
of "the advanced tools with which to order and
interpret the stratigraphical record". The volume
comprises eighteen chapter written by twenty contributors,
acknowledged experts in their specialities. After the
Introduction, the chapters are divided into two parts:
"Establishing the Sequence" (twelve chapters)
and "Interpreting the Record" (five chapters).
Part I covers the topics of lithostratigraphy, remote
sensing, complex tectonic areas, evolutionary concepts,
event stratigraphy, cyclostratigraphy, isotope stratigraphy,
subsurface logging, seismic stratigraphy, sequence stratigraphy,
geochemistry and chronostratigraphy. Part II comprises
facies analysis, sea levels, palaeoenvironments, palaeoclimates
and orogenic belts. The construction of the book, and
the examples used, betray the academic background of
most contributors. This is entirely appropriate for
the undergraduate market, but don't expect to find many
petroleum exploration and development case histories.
I get the impression that this is a volume to dip into
if you want to know something about remote sensing,
for example. Some of the chapters are too wordy for
my liking, and the use of more diagrams would have been
helpful; I'm not quite sure how well the chapters on
complex tectonic areas and interpreting orogenic belts
fit in. From a personal perspective, I would have liked
to see more on biostratigraphical techniques (in addition
to evolutionary concepts), as well as a chapter on industrial
applications. But the most glaring omission is quantitative
stratigraphy in general and graphic correlation in particular
(very important arenas in modern stratigraphical studies).
There is a useful index at the back, but you wont find
"micropalaeontology" listed, which tells you
something. In summary, the volume reflects a broadly
academic approach to advances in modern stratigraphy,
and it's admirable in this respect. There's not much
directly relevant to the industrial micropalaeontologist,
but you may get some ideas from a few chapters. However,
if you want to brush up on event stratigraphy, for example,
then this would be as good a place as any to start.
At £24.95, the paperback version looks like very
of Africa: v. 25
Desert Margin Changes in Africa Since 135 ka: Implications
for Water, Carbon and Mankind. 1998. H. Faure, K.
Heine and A. Singhvi (Eds) Proceedings of IGCP-349/IGCP-404/INQUA
Commission on Carbon conference. Palaeoecology of Africa,
25, 1-301. ISBN 90 54104511 ISSN 0168-6208, A. A. Balkema,
This volume contains 22 papers, written
in English and French, concerned with late Pleistocene
environmental changes in dryland regions, principally
in Africa. The papers are grouped geographically into
four sections, namely: Mauritania and West Africa; Sahara
and Sahel of Northeast Africa; the arid belt from Israel
to China; arid regions in general.
Of the 22 papers, only one is concerned
with primarily microfossils: this is the chapter by
Ingeborg Soulié-Märsche of fossil populations
of the charophyte Lamprothamnium papulosam from northern
Mauritania. In this chapter, Soulié-Märsche
uses finds of L. papulosam to infer low-salinity conditions
in areas that our now Sebkhas, during a mid-Holocene
humid period. A brief overview of the palaeoenvironmental
significance of charophytes is also provided. Other
papers include only passing reference to biological
remains: Fall and colleagues describe a carbon isotope
record from Senegalese peat, and make passing references
to pollen and plant macrofossils and the paper by Donner
mentions gastropods and foraminifers in the study of
playa sediments from the Western Desert, Egypt.
Despite the fact that microfossils
are commonly used as tools in Quaternary palaeoenvironmental
reconstruction, there is very little that will be of
direct interest either to palaeontologists or micropalaeontologists.
That said, the book is well produced and contains much
that will be of interest to Quaternary scientists and
arid-zone geomorphologists with geographical leanings
towards drylands in general and to Africa in particular.
University College London, UK
Ocean History: A window into the Future. 1999. Abrantes,
F. & Mix, A.C. (Eds) Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.
This book is the proceedings of the
6th International Conference on Paleoceanography (ICP6),
which was held in Lisbon, 23-28 August 1998. The book
is organized into the five themes of the conference;
(1) Polar-tropical and interhemisphere linkages, (2)
Does the ocean cause, or respond to, abrupt climatic
changes?, (3) Biotic responses to major paleoceanographic
changes, (4) Past warm climates, and (5) Innovations
in monitoring ocean history. The book comprises 23 chapters,
the majority of which are reviews based on the oral
presentations given by the invited speakers, but there
are also introductory chapters to four of the five themes.
The aims of the book are to provide useful reviews of
each field and to document the ideas/controversies raised
during the conference that may stimulate future work.
The introductory chapters were brought in to summarize
the state of the art within each theme.
Overall, the book achieves its aims.
The chapters are useful and informative, with each one
being well illustrated with good quality figures and
having an extensive list of references. There is also
a useful subject index at the back of the book, however,
there a large number of grammatical and typographic
There is a huge bias towards North
Atlantic research in this volume. Whilst it is true
that this area of the world has received the most attention,
this type of book does give the impression that the
North Atlantic holds all or most of the answers that
palaeoceanographers are seeking. I would have liked
a more balanced view of the world’s oceans, with
chapters on the importance of marginal and polar seas.
After all, most palaeoclimatic changes are best observed
where there are big temperature differences (i.e. in
the polar regions), whilst the Bering Sea (one of the
largest marginal seas), for example, is the gateway
between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the Bering
Strait has been referred to as one of the most productive
places in the world.
This brings me to the next point (perhaps
the most important one for us) – that of the book’s
coverage on various microfossil groups. A quick look
at the contents of the chapters reveals that the microfossil-related
papers deal exclusively with calcareous microfossils,
with an overwhelming bias on foraminifera. There are
actually no papers on siliceous microfossils or dinoflagellates,
although diatom mats did receive one quick mention in
a sentence about foraminifera in Neogene deposits. A
strange fact considering one of the editors (and the
convenor of the conference) is a diatomist. One might
argue, of course, that calcareous microfossils and their
associated biomarkers are the key to current palaeoceanographic
research, but isn’t this situation just hampering
the emergence of siliceous microfossil use? As I have
already mentioned above, the seas associated with siliceous
oozes (sediments underlying the most productive places
on Earth) are seemingly being under-represented at these
So what’s the problem? Perhaps
the main problem facing diatom research, in particular,
is the paucity of scientists working on marine fossil
diatoms (or modern marine diatoms for that matter),
and the remoteness of the high latitude siliceous deposits.
Furthermore, many of the deposits in upwelling regions
(off Peru, Namibia, Sahara) are poorly studied because
they border on some of the poorest countries, which
have few (if any) ocean-going scientific vessels. There
is also the problem of age dating and oxygen isotopic
analysis in some of these siliceous oozes, compounded
with the lack of diatom-related biomarkers. Let’s
hope, for those that work on siliceous microfossils
anyway, that some of these problems are addressed in
Despite my feelings on the balance
of the book, I would still strongly recommend it for
those interested in the wider issues within palaeoceanography.
Some of the chapters provide important information that
has direct applications to my own research, whilst others
give fascinating insights into fields I normally (perhaps
unwisely) ignore. Although the price may deter students,
I think librarians in universities and marine institutes
should be encouraged to purchase a copy.
Ric W. Jordan
Yamagata University, Japan
Cambrian to Ordovician...
British Cambrian to Ordovician Stratigraphy (Geological
Conservation Review Series 18). 1999. AWA Rushton, AW
Owen, RM Owens and JK Prigmore, 435 pages, hardback,
The aim of the review was to cover
the whole range of stratigraphy from Great Britain,
describing in particular the most important stratotype
sections, key stratigraphical contacts and the principal
lithologies and biofacies. The introduction to Cambrian
and Ordovician stratigraphy is short. The main components
of the Cambrian and Ordovician biotas are noted as brachiopods,
trilobites and graptolites. Microfossils are also noted
to occur in this interval. As an example, ‘acritarchs
and chitinozoans are important in certain parts of the
geological column’ is a notable quote. The authors
could perhaps have said ‘acritarchs are likely
to be found in abundance in the marine sediments exposed
at most localities in the Cambrian and Ordovician, and
that future research could be directed to fully investigate
their full biostratigraphical and palaeoenvironmental
For each of the 28 Cambrian and 99
Ordovician localities the information is mostly taken
from published sources. The text is clear, and reads
much like recent BGS memoirs – a sound outline,
but lacking some important taxonomic details. The diagrams,
mostly redrawn from publications, are clear and easy
to use. The reproduction quality of the black and white
locality photographs is poor. For each of the areas
covered, the diagram of the stratigraphical coverage
of the sites is given, which is very helpful. It also
highlights the lack of site coverage for some intervals.
A quick look at the index shows few references to acritarchs,
chitinozoans and conodonts, though some references in
the text are not indexed. No mention is made of the
excellent preservation and low geothermal alteration
of the palynomorphs in the Tremadoc Shineton Shales
and Caradoc of Shropshire when compared to the high
organic geothermal alteration in North Wales., There
are a number of additional potential GCR sites that
could have been included. These should perhaps include
Skiag Bridge in northwest Scotland for the early Cambrian,
Mattocks Hill in Shropshire for the Shineton Shales
sedimentology, and additional road and river sections
in the type Caradoc area for sedimentology, acritarchs,
chitinozoans and spores.
The sites are described in geographical
and stratigraphical order: Cambrian of North Wales,
Harlech Dome and Arfon area; Cambrian of South Wales:
St. David's Area; Cambrian rocks of England; Tremadoc
Series in Wales and England; Arenig to Ashgill in South
Wales; Arenig to Ashgill of North Wales; Arenig to Caradoc
of Shropshire; Arenig to Ashgill of northern England;
Scotland: Cambrian and Ordovician of the Hebridean Terrane;
Scotland: Cambrian and Ordovician of the Grampian Terrane
and Highland Border Terrane; Scotland: Ordovician of
the Midland Valley Terrane; Scotland: Ordovician of
the Southern Uplands Terrane. A list of the sites are
on the website.
For those undertaking research on Cambrian
and Ordovician sections, the volume brings together
much of the published data on the sites described, and
provides a list of references where further details
may be found. At £70.00, this volume is a valuable
research reference book for workers on the Lower Palaeozoic
of Great Britain.
Ken J. Dorning
University of Sheffield, UK
Silurian Stratigraphy (Geological Conservation Review
Series 19). 2000. RJ Aldridge, David J Siveter, Derek
J Siveter, PD Lane, DG Palmer and NH Woodcock
542 pages, hardback, JNCC. £76.00.
The Silurian volume contains an outline
introduction to Silurian stratigraphy by Nigel Woodcock,
followed by a chapter on Silurian palaeontology by Doug
Palmer. The chapter on Silurian fossils includes the
acritarchs, chitinozoans, foraminiferans, radiolaria,
scolecodonts and spores. The summary diagram for the
acritarchs is not very useful as the numbered acritarch
assemblages are different to the standard acritarch
biozonation derived from Hill 1974 and Dorning 1981,
which is used in the site descriptions. As the original
site selection was undertaken by myself and Howard Armstrong
in the early 1980’s, there are only a few additional
sites that I feel should be considered for inclusion.
The sections in the Pentamerus Beds and Purple Shales
of Sheinton Brook in Shropshire could certainly be considered
a potential GCR site.
For each of the 127 localities, the
information is mostly taken from published sources,
though there are a few references to unpublished theses.
The diagrams, mostly redrawn from publications, are
clear and easy to use. The poor reproduction quality
of the black and white locality photographs is unfortunate.
Some have no indication of scale, which is fine if you
know the sections, but potentially misleading if they
are not familiar. Some of the photographs were clearly
taken several years ago, and an indication of the year
taken would be interesting, as sites, particularly active
quarries, can change a great deal with time. The sites
are dealt with in stratigraphical order, grouped into
chapters dealing with the Llandovery, Wenlock, Ludlow
and Pridoili series. Within the chapters, the sites
are grouped geographically. The total list of sites
covered is on the website.
All in all, this is a very valuable
reference work, as it brings together the published
material from many sources for each locality. At £76.00
this reference book will be useful to researchers working
on the Silurian stratigraphy of England, Scotland and
R. E. Martin, Kluwer Academic/ Plenum Publishers, 459
pp. ISBN 0-306-46232-X (hb), Price £90/ $129.50
This book comprises nineteen chapters
which together illustrate the changing role of micropalaeontology
within the earth sciences over recent years. Many micropalaeontologists
will have noticed the shift in research funding from
hydrocarbon exploration and the understanding of earth's
geological history to investigations of 'recent' climate
change, pollution and associated anthropogenic impacts.
As such, this volume points the way forward for many
(but not all) within our discipline. It is interesting
to note that despite the focus on modern processes in
this work the results of many of these studies may have
implications for our understanding and interpretation
of the fossil record.
The book is divided into five sections:
Baseline Studies of Foraminifera; Water Quality in Modern
Marine, Marginal Marine and Freshwater ecosystems; Physiological
Responses of Foraminifera to Pollution; Disturbance
and Recovery Through Time; and Aquifers and Engineering.
These comprise a good mix of general papers and specific
examples. The first paper (by John Murray), although
using foraminifera as an example, provides an illuminating
introduction to environmental change and the response
of biological organisms to both physical and chemical
The nineteen chapters vary
in their scientific approach, geographical and environmental context
and in the microfossil groups chosen for study. In this respect the
book does not provide a balanced picture. The choice of subject matter
is probably a reflection of the papers offered rather than the true
scale and breadth of environmental micropalaeontology being undertaken
today. This does not detract from the quality of the papers presented.
The book is strongly focussed on marine systems, and predominantly
foraminiferal projects. Most studies are in some way related to
anthropogenic impacts. Fifteen chapters are based on studies of marine
and marginal marine ecosystems (twelve on the applications of
foraminifera) while only four concentrate on non-marine environments.
There is a wide range of research currently addressing the
acidification and eutrophication of non-marine waters (especially
through the use of diatoms and testate amoebae) which are only briefly
covered here. In addition to the fifteen foraminiferal chapters,
ostracods (3 papers), thecamoebians (1 paper), chrysophytes &
diatoms (1 paper), dinoflagellates (1 paper) and pollen (1 paper) are
also dealt with. Geographically, the book mainly takes its examples
from Europe and North America with additional chapters covering work in
the Pacific and the Middle East.
This book provides an important step
between the geological and environmental sciences. However,
it is not an all encompassing review of current environmental
micropalaeontology, but it does gives an indication
of the direction in which the discipline is moving.
As such it is an important resource. At £90 the
book is very over-priced for a series of case studies
and I imagine will only find its way on to a few private
shelves. At such a high cost one would have also expected
a higher quality of paper and image reproduction. Many
of the grey-scale images are low contrast with the result
that monotone areas often range from light to dark.
Image resolution is also quite poor on some SEM and
line drawings, detracting from the feel of the book.
A useful index is provided at the end.
With subject matter ranging from the
Chemical Ecology of Foraminifera to the Construction
of the Thames Barrier and a range of pollution impact
studies the book should at least be browsed by those
seeking an introduction to the use of microfossils in
monitoring recent environmental change.
This review was originally prepared
for the Palaeontological Association Newsletter
University of Newcastle, UK
Manual of Practical Laboratory and Field Techniques
Owen R. Green
Kluwer Academic Publishers £85 / €125
Micropalaeontologists should not be
put off by the title of this 538-page manual. In his
introduction, the author makes no apology for his apparent
bias towards micropalaeontological techniques, stating
that it is always more convenient to modify a technique
towards extraction for macrofossils than visa versa.
The manual is drawn from Owen Green’s extensive
experiences at South London College, Goldsmith’s
College, University of London and currently at the Department
of Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford. The manual
is divided into three sections with an introduction,
a section on field techniques and finally the bulk of
the work concerns laboratory techniques. Obviously,
a manual is not written to be read cover to cover, so
I decided to test the author’s assertion that it
can be used to answer two basic questions:
- How do I carry out a certain procedure?
- I want to examine a fossil of a
known composition from a rock. What procedure should
The section headings are well thought
out and can easily be followed to the relevant section.
There are many techniques that involve similar processes
and the manual cross-references these well, navigating
the reader clearly to the relevant parts of the manual.
In this respect, the manual certainly answers these
two questions. As a phosphatic micropalaeontologist,
I decided to look in more detail at some of the technique
entries under phosphatic fossil extraction. Obviously,
each worker has their own method for carrying out their
sample preparation but I found it strange to be told
that the acetic acid needs to be decanted every 8 hours
and that rock must be treated in smaller quantities
than for the formic acid technique. Lennart Jeppsson’s
lab in Lund, Sweden regularly processes large samples
of many tens of kilograms to enable representative conodont
faunas to be extracted. Jeppsson’s more recent
paper (Jeppsson et al. 1999) advocates the use of large
sample sizes and monitoring of the procedure by taking
regular Eh/Ph readings. Having said this, the manual
certainly challenges the reader to think about how their
laboratory techniques can be refined. The section on
laboratory design and layout is a useful contribution
on which very little has been published previously.
Health and safety information is given throughout and
this has been emphasised in bold or by the use of text
boxes. However, I was shocked to see the suggestion
that concentrated HF can be used in the field to etch
the surfaces of siliceous rocks and check for the presence
of siliceous microfossils.
While thoroughly recommending this
book, I do feel that the length and subsequent price
of the volume is rather off putting. The book is eminently
suitable for the professional and interested amateur
alike but I suspect that prospective buyers will think
twice about paying 85 GBP. The fold out flow charts
are a useful addition but may have added to the costs
of producing the book. I was slightly surprised by the
choice of flow charts given fold out status. The diatom
processing flow chart was allocated a normal A4 page
whereas the non-routine palynological processing flow
chart was reproduced on a fold out but could easily
have been reproduced on a normal page or as a list of
stages. There are a number of repetitions that add to
the length of the book. Each section in the manual has
a reference section following it and I found this particularly
helpful. However, some references, for example, Brunton
et al (1985) and Brasier (1980) are repeated in many
section reference lists and then again in the main reference
section that contains a complete list of references
in larger font. There are not many recent references
cited but this simply shows that this type of work is
not published as often in the current academic climate.
This serves to further emphasise the importance of Green’s
Brasier, M. D. 1980. Microfossils. Allen and Unwin,
London, 193 pp.
Brunton, C. H. C., Besterman, T. P. and Cooper, J. A.
1985. Guidelines for the curation of Geological materials.
Miscellaneous Publication of the Geological Society
of London, 17.
Jeppsson L., Anehus R. and Fredholm D. 1999. The optimal
acetate buffered acetic acid technique for extracting
phosphatic fossils. Journal of Paleontology, 73 (5),
in the Sedimentary Record
De Wever, P., Dumitrica, P., Caulet, J.P., Nigrini,
C. & Caridroit, M. 2002
Gordon & Breach Science Publishers in association
with Socièté géologique de France
Price approx £70, order through the Amazon link
on TMS web-page
For some time now there has been a
need for a detailed text book on fossil radiolarians
and De Wever et al. have produced a remarkably practical
tome which will be of much use to those wanting an introduction
to this group, as well as for seasoned researchers/biostratigraphers.
The only previous modern publication was by Anderson
(1983), who concentrated mainly on the biology of living
radiolarians. This new volume is in the same league
as Haynes’ (1981) book on Foraminifera, or Bown’s
(1998) text on nannofossils.
Chapter 1 deals with the physiology
and distribution of living radiolarians, and covers
the same ground as Anderson (op. cit.), but updates
it with more recent work carried out in the last 20
years on the physiology and skeletal growth patterns
of the radiolarians. It is obvious that there is still
much to be done on the actual distribution of modern
taxa; even their method of reproduction is still under
debate. Detailed coverage of skeletal growth is included
here as it underpins the new hierarchical taxonomy developed
within this volume.
Chapter 2 takes the radiolarian test
from life as part of the plankton to death as a sedimentary
particle and in doing so discusses vertical and geographical
distribution, seasonality and productivity. Of importance
for palaeoecologists is the radiolarian’s susceptibility
to dissolution and the result this may have on the final
fossil assemblages. The estimate is that less than 10%
of siliceous material is deposited as sediment, and
that spumellarian taxa are more abundant in sediments
than in the water column, a ratio that is reversed for
nassellarians. Diversity and geographical/vertical distribution
has really only been studied over the last 20 years
with the introduction of sediment traps, however there
are some good examples included of the biogeography
of bottom sediments. Overall, these studies are still
patchy and the authors have not considered that there
is an intrinsic problem in distinguishing between live
and dead assemblages, as all organic matter is destroyed
with the use of acids for preparing the material. This
means that the Rose Bengal protoplasmic test cannot
be used to differentiate between assemblages as in modern
foraminiferal studies. Until there is a way of actually
quantifying this ratio, the overriding assumption is
still being made that the fossil record reflects the
living distribution, even though there is likely to
be a significant difference brought on by dissolution.
However, temperature estimates and fertility studies
will still prove to be of use for palaeoecologists/oceanographers.
Chapter 3 takes the next step from
sediments to rocks via the various diagenetic processes
(epigeny) and covers the more pervasive Palaeozoic and
Mesozoic radiolarian rich rocks and cherts of the Tethyan
regions of Europe, America and Japan. Radiolarite formation
models are presented and discussed in detail, as well
as sedimentation rates (slow) and conditions of deposition
(shallow to deep). Of note is a short section on radiolarians
as organic providers for hydrocarbon rich deposits.
Chapter 4, at over 200 pages, represents
the most important part of this book covering the taxonomy
and the advancement of a new, more integrated, natural
hierarchical classification system. The authors, and
in particular Dumitrica, the main instigator, have to
be commended on their bold attempt to bring together
several disparate taxonomic systems in use today. The
status quo has been Haeckel’s (1881; 1887) classification
system which has held sway for over 100 years, and is
still in use. However, it has long been recognised as
being flawed with a division based solely on strict
geometry which does not reflect the polyphyletic evolution
of this group. To compound matters, there has been a
polarisation of taxonomic approaches over the last 40
years between Mesozoic and Tertiary workers. This has
arisen mainly due to preservational factors; Mesozoic
forms have often been diagentically altered, with internal
features obscured, so reliance has been upon SEM and
external features, hence the erection of many species
on minor morphological features. Tertiary workers have
almost exclusively relied on the light microscope and
therefore rely on distinguishing internal features such
as the initial spicule and its relationship with subsequent
The present authors have tried to unify
all existing systems, but problems still remain, for
example the internal morphology of many Palaeozoic and
Mesozoic types has not been preserved or observed and
the jury is still out on the exact importance of the
taxonomic features selected. To combat this, a combination
of 2 or more key morphological characters is used, with
the most important related to the initial test development.
I have summarised the key features used below.
spicule to first shell
As far as possible, families are defined on the internal
skeleton and the authors admit that a large number of
families are still poorly defined, but the system appears
to be robust enough to absorb any modifications/redefinitions
needed; only time will tell.
In a little detail, seven orders are
erected (Archaeospicularia, Albaillellaria, Latentifistularia,
Spumellaria, Collodaria, Entactinaria and Nassellaria).
Two orders are relatively new, namely Archaeospicularia
(Palaeozoic and ancestral) and Latentifistularia (Early
Carboniferous-end Permian). Some confusion may arise
as the latter order includes 3-rayed forms which superficially
look like Mesozoic forms such as Paronaella. Another
surprise comes with the order Entactinaria, which resemble
spumellarians but possess an initial spicule and as
a result of this redefinition many families and taxa
previously included in Spumellaria have been relocated.
This leaves the spumellarians somewhat emended and denuded
which may cause problems for more conservative taxonomists.
Additionally, most of the remaining spumellarians have
been placed into the Superfamily Actinommacea which
has been informally divided into three morphogroups.
Of the new system, 23 groups have been
emended (mainly families) and 4 are new (family and
subfamily) (I have produced a summary of the complete
hierarchical listing, Table 2). All orders and groups
down to family level are briefly defined and the families/subfamilies
are well illustrated with either SEMs, or line drawings
of several typical genera. All formalised genera have
additionally been listed with their type species and
author, but are not discussed in detail, nor are the
author references included in the bibliography.
Chapters 5 and 6 provide an overview
of the biostratigraphical uses of radiolarians and overall
evolutionary changes through the Palaeozoic, Mesozoic
and Tertiary. Chapter 5 begins with the basics of biostratigraphy
and zonal definition through to a detailed description
of Unitary Association (UA) techniques prevalent in
radiolarian biostratigraphy. Each geological interval
is presented in turn with the most detailed and up to
date zonation available. The Palaeozoic is broken up
into discrete intervals of interest, namely the Cambrian-Ordovician,
the Silurian-Middle Devonian, the Late Devonian-Middle
Carboniferous and the Late Carboniferous to the end
of the Permian. The Mesozoic is covered in more detail
with all UA zones discussed in terms of defining events
and assemblages developed and also reflects the divisions
into the Boreal and Tethyan regions for the Jurassic.
The only comment I have, and it is certainly not a complaint,
is that the authors have not addressed the areas which
are not within their immediate experience, so the more
marginal areas such as the Jurassic and Early Cretaceous
of the North Sea (Dyer and Copestake, 1989), the Barents
sea, Russia (Blueford and Murchey, 1993), and the Antarctic
regions (Kiessling, 1999) are either scantily covered,
or not at all. Whilst not important in terms of the
total assemblages recovered, these more marginal areas
may have significance when it comes to investigating
rates of species migration and palaeoceanographic consequences.
The Tertiary is split into low and
middle/high latitudinal areas with various problems
such as diachrony and the problems of regional zonations
against palaeomagnetic data touched upon. The tropical
area is best known and this is reflected in the detail
with all zones defined and described briefly. The lesser
studied mid/high latitude areas warrant only a couple
of pages of the more complete zonal schemes.
Chapter 6 on evolution provides an
excellent overview for each era and also discusses in
some detail specific radiolarian responses (at order,
family and even specific level) to crises and boundary
events (muted or non-existent), including the P/T, T/J,
Cretaceous events (i.e. the oceanic anoxic events; OAEs),
K/T and the Eocene/Oligocene.
The appendices are comprehensive and
include the preparatory techniques available for processing
rock and sediment types including cherts. It must be
noted, however, that radiolarians can also be retrieved
from many lithologies via normal paraffin/white spirit
micropalaeontological processing techniques, particularly
the more argillaceous, less indurated shales and claystones.
The most ambitious preparatory method
is the slicing technique which has been used by Dumitrica
to analyse the internal structures of individual radiolarian
tests; possibly not one to attempt after a heavy night
out! The glossary is also comprehensive running to 22
The bibliography is comprehensive,
with the exception that the generic author citations
are not included, which is a shame (but excusable due
to book size/cost limitations) as many users of the
book will undoubtedly want to follow up on initial identifications.
The final section is a taxonomic index, which is essential
for navigating around the taxonomy section.
In conclusion, this volume has been
well researched, well illustrated and achieves all its
stated aims and is noteworthy for introducing a novel
and robust taxonomic classification. The book also includes
significant summaries of Palaeozoic to Tertiary biostratigraphy
An additional use for this book may
arise as many micropalaeontology courses do not cover
radiolarians due to a lack of specialists to teach and
so this volume could be used by any competent micropalaeontologist
to put together a very complete course. Hopefully, this
volume may even tempt more people to work on this diverse
group, and it will certainly prove to be an invaluable
source for biostratigraphy and interpreting palaeoenvironments
from the Palaeozoic to the modern day.
I would not hesitate to recommend this
book to anyone who needs to utilise radiolaria in their
work, as well as students who need to get a good grasp
on this important group. As with all volumes partly
aimed at students, the cost may prove prohibitive, but
certainly all university libraries should obtain a copy.
This volume would not disgrace any professional/academic
micropalaeontologist’s bookshelf either.
ANDERSON, O. R. 1983. Radiolaria. Springer-Verlag,
Amsterdam, 1-355 p.
BLUEFORD, J. R., AND B. MURCHEY. 1993. Radiolaria of
giant and subgiant fields in Asia. Micropaleontology
Special Publication, 6, 1-299 p.
BOWN, P. R. 1998. Calcareous Nannofossil Biostratigraphy.
Chapman & Hall, 381 p.
DYER, R., AND P. COPESTAKE. 1989. A review of Late Jurassic
to earliest Cretaceous radiolaria and their biostratigraphic
potential to petroleum exploration in the North Sea,
p. 214-235. In D. J. Batten and M. C. Keen (eds.), North
western European Micropalaeontology and Palynology.
Ellis Horwood, Chichester.
HAECKEL, E. 1881. Entwurf eines radiolarien-Systems
auf grund von studien der Challenger-Radiolarien. Jenaische
Zeitschrift fur Medizinund Naturwissenschaften, 15:418-472.
HAECKEL, E. 1887. Report on the Radiolaria collected
by the H.M.S. Challenger during the years 1873-1876.
Reports of the Voyage of the Challenger, Zoology, 18:1-1893.
HAYNES, J. R. 1981. Foraminifera. Macmillan, London,
KIESSLING, W. 1999. Upper Jurassic Radiolarians from
the Antarctic Peninsula. Micropaleontology Supplement,
F. John Gregory
Natural History Museum, UK
& Kronos Consultants, UK
EVOLUTION OF LIFE WITH RICHARD DAWKINS
PC/MAC CD- ROM. Notting Hill.1996. £29.95.
the beginning of this CD, Richard Dawkins appears in
his 'study', a 19th century curio collection filled
with books, old skeletons, butterfly cabinets, giant
stuffed birds, etc. From the fireplace, a whirling,
gelatinous mass, vaguely reminiscent of the water creature
in the movie "The Abyss", issues forth and then materialises
into Dawkins. He tells how the mystery of where we come
from has been solved by Darwin's 'discovery' of evolution
and how the complexity of life can be boiled down to
dematerialises and heads back up the chimney, inviting
you to explore his study. A click on the photocopier
lets you watch the photocopier make lots of baby photocopiers.
Select a constant twirling DNA strand on a table and
you will be introduced to DNA, with amazing video of
a replicating DNA strand and of protein production,
and allowed to play mutation games on miniature, rapidly
growing bonsai trees. A poster on the wall is a segue
into the 'boxing match', where the major concepts in
the struggle of life (geometric expansion; finite resources;
competition; and longevity, fidelity, and fecundity)
are played out by little Mr. Potatohead- like creatures.
you have probably guessed by now, this CD is "way cool",
"rad", or whatever kids say these days. This CD has
been designed to appeal to today's information age youngsters.
It's filled with Dawkins's sound bites, short video
clips of dam-building beavers, and quick games where
you get to kill off the brightly- coloured guppies in
some South American river. A technological emphasis
extends through many aspects of this CD, from the often-employed
comparison between technology and life (how CD's are
like a moth's wing and how water lilies inspired the
Crystal Palace) to the suggestion that electronic 'life'
would be defined by the ability for self- replication.
Indeed, there is even an extra game supplied, Cybertation,
which allows you to 'mutate' and 'breed' three- dimensional
shapes, with the suggestion that you are creating your
own electronic life. Even the structure of the CD would
probably be incomprehensible to someone unfamiliar with
Windows and surfing the Internet.
layout is meant to reflect a museum. After you leave
Dawkins's study, you enter the Evodrome, a circular
structure which has different 'exhibits' on each of
three different rings. The outer most ring has Dawkins's
study and the Debaters' Corner, where Darwin, Lamark,
Lyell, and Paley (a 19th century creationist) battle
it out over topics such as the age of the earth and
the nature of evolution. Paley is definitely the most
eloquent of the lot, and I just can't imagine Lyell
saying, "Poppycocks". Finally, the Taxonomists' Corner
contains short blurbs on taxonomy and cladistics and
an end- of the game quiz.
middle ring contains 12 exhibits designed as slide shows.
The topics covered almost perfected matched those covered
in my school biology book's evolution section, such
as mutualism and predator and prey interactions, for
which the examples given were also vaguely familiar,
such as the rhino and the oxpecker and the cheetah and
the gazelles. Each exhibit opens with a Dawkins sound
bite and then allows you to move through short text
and photos about the topics, often in a fairly lateral
manner. Many of the pages of the slide shows have links
to a database, which offers more in-depth text with
no pictures, games, or gimmicks. The database allows
further links with other topics and with a glossary.
database makes this CD appropriate for slightly older
children (say 14-15), but it has a few annoying flaws.
First, the text is in an amazingly scruffy and tiny
font, making it quite difficult to read at times. The
glossary is particularly bad in this respect. Also,
much of the text has been taken straight from Dawkins's
books. Consequently, one often reads, "As we saw in
Chapter 6," without having a clue what chapter 6 was
innermost ring has four exhibits. The Galapagos Islands,
which allows you to observe the finches and tortoises,
has great game- like graphics like children will love.
The other three address two topics each, such as how
mimics evolved, how sex evolved, how beauty evolved,
and how complex design evolved. These topics are treated
with small blocks of text with pictures and occasional
bits of video and each one also has some sort of game
or 'hands-on' activity associated with it. One of the
best of these is on the evolution of the eye. This game
allows the user to move the eye through the various
steps from a group of light- sensitive cells to a fish
eye as a picture of a shark comes into focus and a graph
records that this takes only 1500 transformations.
installation of the CD was fairly easy, but not as simple
as the instructions would have you believe. The CD is
also supposed to be Macintosh compatible, but RJA couldn't
install it on his Mac. Navigating around the Evodrome
is extremely easy, even if you don't read the instructions
of the CD jacket.
do have a few nits to pick. Dawkins treats the extinction
of the dinosaurs as certainly being caused by an impact
which killed the cold-blooded dinosaurs by throwing
up dust and blocking the sunlight, without the slightest
mention that there is still some controversy over this.
He refers to Amphioxus as the ancestor of the vertebrates
and describes it as having vertebrae, but no skull,
which is not strictly accurate.
CD is really not much use to a palaeontologist or even
for undergraduates. All of the concepts covered are
quitebasic. But if you can't tell your Batesian from
your Müllerian mimicry, maybe you should have a
look at this. It is, nevertheless, really good fun and
a great thing to play with on a Sunday afternoon. (It
took me about 3 hours to get through everything.) This
CD is really most appropriate for teenagers. Younger
teens might not be quite up to the reading level required
for the data base, and older teens studying for their
A- levels in biology will find that they know it all
already. The twelve to fourteen-year-olds, however,
will love this. So if you know any kids, The Evolution
of Life would make a spectacular gift.
Freedman, Department of Geology, University of Leicester,
University Road, Leicester LE1 7RH.
THE STORY OF LIFE
Sue Rigby 1997, British Geological Survey (Earthwise),
64 pp. ISBN 0-852722-84-2. £6.50.
no way I can be negative about a booklet that includes
the conodont story as one of six case studies selected
to illustrate the cutting edge of palaeontological science.
Nor would I wish to be, as Sue Rigby's small volume
is a pretty good addition to the market of popular fossil
books. Her enthusiasm for her subject bursts through
the pages, and it is especially pleasing that an active
professional palaeontologist has taken the time to put
together a text intended for the general public and
for school students. The project was born during Sue's
time at the British Geological Survey, and the book
is published as a contribution to their educational
text is organised into double or single page topics,
lavishly illustrated with photographs of fossils and
with colourful line diagrams. The introductory portion
covers topics such as the nature of fossils, evolution
and past environments; this is followed by a skip through
the history of life, with themes like terrestrialisation
and mass extinction highlighted. A series of six palaeontological
case studies not only includes the conodonts but also
oxygen isotope studies of foraminiferans, and there
are sections on collectors, collections and the major
invertebrate macrofossil groups. One eccentricity is
the inclusion towards the beginning of a mock board
game, 'the game of life', which sits uneasily with the
lucid, but serious, treatment presented in the rest
of the book.
there are a few quibbles. As examples: diagrams of trilobite
rib numbers, purported to show gradual evolution, in
fact appear to show sudden changes separated by stasis;
there are some very idiosyncratic definitions of 'homology'
and 'analogy'; and there are internal contradictions
in the discussion of mass extinctions. The designer
effect employed on several pages, where the text is
overprinted on a backdrop of faded fossil photograph,
is visually attractive but makes for difficult reading,
and one or two of the photographs (especially the conodonts!)
are out of focus. For readers of this newsletter, too,
there may be rather too little on microfossils, which
outside the case studies achieve very little mention.
All in all, however, this is a valuable contribution
to the popular palaeontological literature, and should
help to enthuse new generations of palaeontologists.
A good stocking filler for the children/nieces/nephews
next Christmas if you missed it in 1997.
J. Aldridge, Professor of Palaeontology, Department
of Geology, The University, Leicester LE1 7RH, U.K.
REX AND THE CRATER OF DOOM
Walter Alvarez 1997, Princeton University Press, pp. xii
+ 185, hardback, ISBN 0-691-01630-5. £18.95.
book is a concise popular account of the story of the
K/T meteorite hypothesis written by one of the main
protagonists. As it shows the K/T debate has moved on
rapidly in the last few years. The hypothesis that a
meteorite impact was responsible for the Iridium in
boundary clays has been essentially vindicated by the
discovery of the Chixculub Crater and associated Tsunami
deposits around the Caribbean. At the same time improvements
in stratigraphy mean that the maximum likely duration
of the boundary clay has declined from millions to thousands
of years (Herbert et al. 1995) and that the extinction
levels of marine and non-marine faunas have been shown
to be coincident with each other and with the iridium
layer (within most peoples margin of error). Given this,
vaguely interested observers of the K/T debate may begin
to wonder what it is about now. The answer is given
in the first and last chapters of this book.
first chapter is a journalistic rendering of the current
hypothesis of what happened when the 10km meteorite,
or comet, hit the earth at around 30 km per second.
The cataclysmic scenario of fireballs, ash induced darkness
and acid rain contains numerous details which need to
be refined and tested in the light of the detailed record
of change, and perhaps equally important non-change
across the boundary. The number of unanswered questions
still easily exceeds the amount we do know about this
extraordinary episode. In addition any palaeobiologist
would want to start serious debate over assertions such
as that without the meteorite the Mesozoic fauna and
flora would have essentially persisted to the present
day. Similarly estimates that 50% of all extant genera
went extinct at the K/T boundary are at best contentious.
Recent analyses of faunal change across the boundary
(e.g. Macleod et al. 1996) provide little support
for either assertion.
the other end of the book the extraordinary evidence
for correlation of flood basalts with mass extinction
is outlined. The coincidence of the Deccan Traps and
the K/T boundary might reasonably be dismissed as simply
a hundred to one coincidence. However, work showing
that the even larger Siberian Traps coincide with the
Permo-Triassic extinctions (Renne et al. 1995)
lengthens odds on the double coincidence to at least
ten thousand to one. There is apparently a lack of any
sensible mechanism for explaining this coincidence,
but as we all know in geology that is an extremely dangerous
line of argument.
intensive research and productive controversy is liable
to continue to surround the topic of mass extinctions
for a considerable period. Nonetheless, it is timely
to reflect on the development of the K/T controversy
since the first exposition of the meteorite hypothesis,
by Alvarez et al. (1980). Walter Alvarez as one of the
prime participants in the story may not be the most
objective witness but can bring a unique perspective
to the tale. This he does admirably in the main part
of this book which concentrates on his personal trail
from study of the Gubbio boundary clay as an offshoot
of geomagnetic research to identification of the Chicxulub
crater as the source of the iridium. Along the way he
weaves in a popular description of how geology works
and some philosophising on catastrophism vs uniformitarianism.
Alvarez avoids the contentious fine detail of the fossil
record - and forams are almost the only microfossils
mentioned; he does give nice cameo descriptions of Jan
Smit and Isabella Premoli Silva though. Given this I
am not in a good position to comment on how accurate
the content is but I did not notice any obvious howlers
and felt that he dealt fairly with conflicting opinions
and gave a fair balance of coverage between the different
disciplines. The main value of the book for a micropalaeontologist
is that it provides a very readable account of the multidisciplinary
activity related to the K/T boundary debate.
suggested by the title, the book is written as a lively
piece of popular science for a general audience. It
is a short book, 150 pages of main text set in a large
font on small pages, so nothing is explained in detail.
However, a careful use of endnotes means that the book
is fully referenced and an excellent introduction to
the scientific literature on the subject. It is slightly
irritating having the basis of biostratigraphy explained
in words of one syllable, but it broadens the accessibility,
and similar explanations of techniques such as neutron
activation analysis are rather more welcome to a micropalaeontologist.
I found it an excellent read and would strongly recommend
it to anyone with an interest in the K/T debate or in
the history of science as it provides much food for
thought on both topics, if not authoritatative analysis.
It also could easily form the basis for student projects
or indeed a course on geology for non-geologists.
L.W., Alvarez W., Asaro F. & Michel H.V., 1980.
Extraterrestial cause for the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction.
Science, 208, 1095-1108.
T.D., Premoli Silva I., Erba E. & Fischer A., 1995.
Orbital chronolgy of Cretaceous - Paleocene Marine Sediments.
In Berggren W.A. et al. (eds.) Geochronology times
scales and global correlation, SEPM Special Publicaton No. 54, 81-93.
N. and 21 others. The Cretaceous-Tertiary biotic transition.
Journal of the Geological Society of London,
P.R., Zhang Z., Richards M.A., Black M.T., and Basu
A.R., 1995. Synchrony and causal relations between Permian-Triassic
boundary crises and Siberian flood volcanism. Science,
Young, Department of Palaeontology, Natural History
Museum, London SW7 5BD.
PALEONTOLOGICAL EVENTS: STRATIGRAPHIC, ECOLOGICAL AND
Brett, C. E. and Baird, G. C. (Eds) 1997. Columbia University
Press, New York, 604 pages. £52.00.
reading the contents section, the question that springs
to mind is "Why should a Micropalaeontologist buy a
book that contains only one article specifically on
microfossils?" Brett and Baird's book focuses on macrofossils
in particular, but the events and processes covered
by this book cannot be ignored by micropalaeontologists
when it comes to interpreting data. The book is split
into two sections, the first on "Lagerstätten and
their genesis" and the second on "Epiboles and longer
term bioevents". Major global bioevents are not a focus
of this volume.
with potentially complicated processes resulting in
a wide variety of bedforms, the editors have written
summary chapters for each of the two major sections
providing definitions and new classifications. The first
half of the book deals with Lagerstätten deposits.
Brett, Baird and Speyer attempt to classify them, grouping
them into mass mortality horizons and skeletal concentrations.
Mass mortality horizons are then subdivided into rapid
burial deposits (obrution) and non-obrution deposits.
Skeletal concentrations are divided into allochthonous
and parautochthonous beds with the latter further subdivided
into single event, composite, hiatal and lag concentrations.
Confused? I certainly was. If anything, these summary
chapters are rather long winded and confusing. It was
also a little disappointing not to be able to directly
relate the contributions presented in many of the following
chapters with Brett et al.'s classification of Lagerstätten.
Throughout the book the line illustrations were clear
and well presented, but some of the photographs were
a little dull and flat in their reproduction.
second part of the book deals with Epiboles and longer
term bioevents. Epibole is an old biostratigraphic term
for a thin stratigraphic interval with an extraordinary
abundance of taxa that are normally rare or absent.
The review chapter for this section was much clearer
than that for the first part and introduced three different
types of Epibole: 1. Taphonomic -local to regional events
with selective preservation of taxa not normally present.
2. Ecological - population bursts or colonisation events.
3. Incursion related - brief invasion followed by rapid
die off. Once again it was difficult to relate Brett
and Baird's classification to the following chapters.
Most notably, Lennart Jeppsson's chapter (the only truly
microfossil based chapter) was not mentioned at all
in the introduction. Jeppsson used conodont faunas to
illustrate stepwise extinction events through the Llandovery-Wenlock
boundary beds (Silurian) of Gotland. In this event termed
the "Ireviken Event" Jeppsson was able to recognise
8 extinction datum planes in the Gotland sections which
he related to his own model for "P and S" oceanic cyclicity.
By superimposing Milankovich Cyclicity over his "P and
S" model, Jeppsson was able to explain the variation
in distance between his datum planes in terms of an
interference pattern between these two global cycles.
should a micropalaeontologist buy this book? The major
drawback of this book is in its length. A single, combined
reference section would have significantly cut down
the thickness of this book. The length is reflected
in the price of 52BGP which rather puts it out of the
range of student pockets and is a little overpriced
considering the quality of the paper. Micropalaeontologists
should certainly not be put off by the length of this
book. It is a very through piece of work and represents
an excellent initial reference point for students as
well as professionals interested in the study of Palaeontological
Miller, Department of Palaeontology, Natural History
Museum, South Kensington, London SW7 5BD
Benton, M.J. 1997: (Second Edition). Chapman & Hall.
452 pp. £24.99. ISBN 0-412-73810-4 (Pbk).
many more reasons than that all fossils degrade to dust,
this revised version of Benton's Vertebrate Palaeontology
text is considered worthy of review in the BMS newsletter.
Many of us based in academic institutions have to cover
vertebrate palaeontology as part of teaching modules,
and, given the relative percentage decrease in palaeontologists
on academic teaching staffs, this is likely to increase.
first edition of this text, published in 1990, swiftly
achieved prominence on recommended reading lists, and,
there is little doubt that this revised and much expanded
second edition will occupy as similar position. There
has been a notable lack of english language vertebrate
texts published in recent years, with a reliance on
Romer's classic Vertebrate Paleontology, published in
1966, now somewhat dated, and Carroll's Vertebrate Paleontology
and Evolution from 1986, at $66 exceeding the pockets
of most undergraduates and now difficult to obtain.
any review of successive editions of texts, it is appropriate
to compare and contrast the two volumes. In simple statistical
terms, the new edition is has expanded somewhat, with
452 pages of text in crown quarto format as compared
with 377 pages in royal octavo format of the first edition.
Physically, this makes Vertebrate Palaeontology an appropriate
companion volume to Clarkson's Invertebrate Palaeontology
and Evolution, and the long anticipated update of Brasier's
Microfossils, all by the same publisher. Of course,
the increase in volume would be of little use if the
content wasn't considerably updated - and Benton succeeds
in covering the majority of advances in vertebrate palaeontology
over the last seven years or so.
is common with virtually any vertebrate text, there
is a considerable bias towards the tetrapods. However,
lower vertebrates - such as are probably more often
encountered by the readership of this newsletter - are
covered reasonably comprehensively. The section on conodonts
has expanded from a single paragraph in the first edition,
into a few pages in the revised edition, reflecting
the fairly rapid increase in our understanding of the
group over the last half decade or so. Similarly, Lower
Palaeozoic fish receive considerably more attention
than before. Recent advances in other fields, including
the nature of the Devonian tetrapods, nesting dinosaurs,
the K-T extinction event, birds and hominid evolution
are also included.
has made a concious effort to arrange the subjects in
stratigraphic order, rather than following previous
texts in following taxonomic groupings. Although this
entails flicking back and forward through the book on
a few occasions, it suceeds in emphasing that the major
evolutionary and extinction events occured across taxonomic
boundaries. Certain areas deemed worthy of highlighting,
including cladistic phylogenies, important faunas and
biomechanical aspects are dealt with in self-contained
boxes throught the text, giving succinct precis's of
areas of vertebrate palaeontology, of particular interest
to many members of the BMS, are largely overlooked.
There is a lack of recognition of the increasing role
that microvertebrate remains play in biostratigraphy.
In a similar vein, the text also lacks any discussion
of biostratigraphic or marine palaeoecological techniques
which play a prominent role in many palaeontological
studies, the emphasis being much more towards palaeobiology.
Although these topics can be picked up on in other undergraduate
texts such as Clarkson, it does mean that Vertebrate
Palaeontology is not as comprehensive as it could be.
anticipates that Benton's Vertebrate Palaeontology will
be come the "industry standard", and as such it should
occupy space on the shelves of all involved in undergraduate
Sansom, School of Earth Sciences, University of
Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT.
Edited by V.M. Podobina et al., 1997; Izdat. GEOS,
Moscow; ISBN 5-89118-017-0.
Maximilianovna Rauzer-Chernousova was born in Moscow
in May, 1895. On the occasion of her 100th birthday,
her colleagues from the Russian Academy of Sciences
(where she worked since 1934) organised a gala event:
an "All-Russian Micropalaeontological Conference" held
in her honour. Unfortunately, Dr. Rauzer-Chernousova
didn't live to see the publication of the proceedings
volume, having passed away in June 1996 at the age of
102. The resulting book, entitled "Biostratigraphy and
micro-organisms of the Phanerozoic of Eurasia" printed
in A-4 format on good quality paper, has English translations
of the papers as an appendix in the back. The Editorial
team led by Vera Podobina must be congratulated on producing
such an interesting and well-edited book. The book begins
with Dr. Rauzer-Chernousova's obituary, followed by
a delightful chapter written by Dr. Rauzer-Chernousova
herself in 1993, entitled "Memories of my childhood
and student years" a reflection on her school days before
the Russian Revolution. The scientific section consists
of 38 articles dealing mostly with foraminifera, but
also including papers on palynomorphs and ostracods.
One of the highlights is a chapter written by Dr. Rauzer-Chernousova
and E.A. Reitlinger on the suprageneric classification
of Paleozoic Foraminifera. It was both heartwarming
and satisfying to see that Dr. Rauzer-Chernousova was
able to contribute a paper to the proceedings volume
that synthesizes some of her ideas based on over 65
years of experience working with Paleozoic foraminifera.
I believe that further information about the book can
be obtained from Vera
Kaminski, Department of Geological Sciences, University
College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT.
Bradoriid and Phosphocopid...
CAMBRIAN BRADORIID AND PHOSPHATOCOPID ARTHROPODS OF
Siveter, D. J. and Williams, M. 1997. Special Paper in
Palaeontology 57. The Palaeontological Association, London.
ISBN 0-901-702-61-7. £ 30.
monograph is part of a series of publications by the
two authors and their collaborators (Williams et al.,
1994; Hou et al., 1996; Melnikova et al.
1997; Williams and Siveter in press) which aim to make
a comprehensive inventory of an important component
of the Palaeozoic arthropod fauna: the bradoriids and
the phosphatocopids. These two groups of small bivalved
arthropods are known to occur worldwide from the early
Cambrian through to the early Ordovician. From the time
of their discovery in the late nineteenth century these
fossils were referred to the ostracod crustaceans until
their soft parts were discovered in the Upper Cambrian
of Sweden (phosphatocopids of the Orsten faunal assemblage;
Müller 1979, 1982), the Middle Cambrian of Australia
(Walossek et al. 1993), the Lower Cambrian of
Great Britain (a phosphatocopide baby, Hinz 1983), and
the early Cambrian of China (Chengjiang fauna; Hou et
al. 1996 for the bradoriid Kunmingella). These recent
discoveries revealed that bradoriids and phosphatocopids
had body plans fundamentally different from those of
Recent and fossil ostracodes, most of them (e.g. the
phosphatocopids) being thought to represent advanced
stem group Crustacea (Walossek & Müller, 1992).
debate concerning the affinity of phosphatocopids and
bradoriids, however, is not the focus of Siveter and
William's paper. They have produced a much needed classical
descriptive treatment of the two groups based on the
morphology of the head shields (traditionally termed
<<carapaces>>) in North American faunas.
The authors have restudied an impressive amount of material
housed in American and European institutions and have
also made extensive new collections of the faunas originally
described by Matthew (e.g., 1886) in New Brunswick and
Nova Scotia more than a hundred years ago. Palaeogeographically,
these faunas come from two broad areas: Avalonia (New
Brunswick, Nova Scotia, East Newfoundland) and Laurentia
(West Newfoundland, Vermont, New York State, Pennsylvania,
Tenessee, Oklahoma, Texas, Mexico, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona,
British Columbia, Alberta and North Greenland). Stratigraphically,
they cover most of the Cambrian Series. The systematic
study is accurate, and re-assesses the former diagnostic
features (outline, ornament) of the two groups. It also
provides clear definitions of key-taxa, such as Bradoria,
a typical «bag genus» which formerly contained
more than 50 different species and sub-species. The
resulting total fauna comprises 16 genera and 26 species
and is much less diverse at the specific level than
indicated in the previous records. A new bradoriid species
Liangshanella burgessensis sp. nov. is described from
the Burgess Shale adding to the list of the bivalved
arthropods with no preserved soft tissues present in
this famous Middle Cambrian lagerstätte (e.g. Isoxys,
Tuzoia, Carnarvonia; see Briggs et al., 1994).
the descriptive part of the monograph is very informative
and beautifully illustrated by nine photographic plates
(with numerous stereo-pairs of key specimens), we would
have liked to find more data concerning the architecture
(dorsal fold or hingement, body attachment), the functional
morphology, and the ultrastructure of the head shield.
The authors seem to be convinced that head-shield composition
is no longer a reliable criterion for distinguishing
bradoriids from phosphatocopids, but do not tackle the
problem of the origin of phosphate (primary or secondary
phosphatization). No attempt is made to reconstruct
the animals (see for example, Hinz, 1993, or Vannier
et al. 1997 for bradoriids) or the exoskeletons in three
dimensions. In a chapter entitled «Palaeogeographical
setting and Palaeoecology», the authors come to
the interesting conclusion that Cambrian bradoriid and
phosphatocopid faunas probably occupied both shallow
and deeper shelf marine settings like typical post-Cambrian
ostracodes. The idea of a possible ecological replacement
of bradoriids/phosphatocopids by ostracodes would have
deserved more comments. Inferred lifestyles (benthic,
nekto-benthic, pelagic) of bradoriids and phosphatocopids
lack additional lines of evidence (e.g. from Recent
crustaceans; Middle Cambrian phosphatocopines from Australia
lack exopods on their legs, clear evidence for a benthic
crawling life style; Walossek et al. 1993).
of the short vertical range and local geographical occurrences
of the species, the biostratigraphical and correlative
potential of the fauna appears to be limited. Notable
exceptions are a few taxa (e.g. Cyclotron lapworthi)
found at similar horizons in the Canadian Atlantic provinces,
southern Britain and Scandinavia. A short paragraph
deals with zoogeography but is not accompanied by a
map. The faunal distribution appear to be consistent
with the current models of the Cambrian palaeogeography
in which Avalonia and Laurentia were separated by the
Iapetus Ocean. Numerous provincial taxa are recognized,
for example Beyrichona, Cyclotron, Falites,
Hipponicharion, Indiana, Wimanicharion in the temperate latitude Avalonia and Baltica and Dielymella and Walcottella from the low latitude tropical
Laurentia. Cosmopolitan genera occur, such as Indota and Liangshanella found also, for example, in
Australia and China, respectively. Anabarochilina occurs worldwide in the upper Middle and lower Upper
Cambrian. Interestingly, the authors note that all these
taxa occupy relatively deeper marine shelf settings.
Interpretations and comparisons with other invertebrate
groups which display similar patterns in the lower Palaeozoic
(see Cocks and Fortey, 1988) would perhaps, have enhanced
the interest of the information to the non-specialist.
in all, this monograph contains a wealth of useful and
reliable data concerning the morphology and distribution
of North American bradoriids and phosphatocopids and
the palaeontology of the two groups in general. This
work together with other monographs co-authored by D.
Siveter and M. Williams (Williams & Siveter, in
press; European fauna) and in preparation (Chinese fauna
with X. Hou) should make a major contribution to the
knowledge of Cambrian biodiversity.
Vannier, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1,
UMR 5565 du CNRS, 43, bd du 11 novembre 1918, 69622
Villeurbanne, France, email@example.com
Dieter Walossek, Section for Biosystematic Documentation,
University of Ulm, Liststrasse 3, D-89079 Ulm, Germany,
L. R. M. & Fortey, R. A. 1988: Lower Palaeozoic
facies and faunas around Gondwana. In Audley-Charles,
M. G. and Hallam, A. (eds.): Gondwana and Tethys, 183-200.
Geological Society Special Publication 37.
I. 1993: Evolutionary trends in archaeocopid ostracods.
In McKenzie, K.G. and Jones, P.J. (eds.): Ostracoda
in the Earth and Life Sciences, 3-12. Balkema, Rotterdam.
Xianguang, Siveter, D. J., Williams, M., Walossek, D.
& Bergström, J. 1996: Appendages of the arthropod
Kunmingella from the early Cambrian of China: its bearing
on the systematic position of the Bradoriida and the
fossil record of the Ostracoda. Philosophical Transactions
of the Royal Society, Series B, 351, 1131-1145.
G. F. 1886: Illustrations of the fauna of the St. John
Group continued. No. 3 : Descriptions of new genera
and species. Proceedings and Transactions of the
Royal Society of Canada, Series 1, 3 (for 1885),
L. M., Siveter, D. J. & Williams, M. 1997: Cambrian
Bradoriida and Phosphatocopida (Arthropoda) of the former
Soviet Union. Journal of Micropalaeontology 16,
K. J. 1979: Phosphatocopine ostracodes with preserved
appendages from the Upper Cambrian of Sweden. Lethaia 12, 1-27.
K. J. 1982: Hesslandona unisulcata sp.nov. with phosphatised
appendages from Upper Cambrian 'Orsten' of Sweden. In
Bate, R.H., Robinson, E. & Sheppard, L.M. (eds.):
Fossil and Recent Ostracods, 276-304. Ellis Horwood,
J., Williams, M. & Siveter, D. J. 1997: The Cambrian
origin of the circulatory system of crustaceans. Lethaia,
D. & Müller, K. J. 1992: The 'Alum Shale Window'
- Contribution of 'Orsten' arthropods to the phylogeny
of Crustacea. Acta Zoologica 73, 305-312.. Lethaia 26, 7-15. Oslo.
D., Hinz-Schallreuter, I., Shergold, J. H. & Müller,
K. J. 1993: Three-dimensional preservation of arthropod
integument from the Middle Cambrian of Australia. Lethaia 26, 7-15. Oslo.
M., Rushton, A. W. A. & Berg-Madsen, V. 1994: The
Upper Cambrian bradoriid ostracod Cyclotron lapworthi
is a hesslandonid. Transactions of the Royal Society
of Edinburgh: Earth Sciences, 85, 123-130.
M. & Siveter, D. J. (in-press): British Cambrian
and Tremadoc Bradoriida and Phosphatocopida (Arthropoda).
Monograph of the Palaeontographical Society.
Early Evolutionary History of...
THE EARLY EVOLUTIONARY HISTORY OF PLANKTONIC FORAMINIFERA
M.K. Boudagher-Fadel, F.T Banner and J.E. Whittaker (1997):
269pp; £69.00 (£55.20 to BMS members through
publishers only); ISBN 0-412-75820-2.
can be little doubt that the British Micropalaeontological
Society publications series has contributed a great
deal to the understanding of microfossils since the
first book 20 years ago. It continues its tradition
in excellence with "The early evolutionary history of
planktonic foraminifera", a book that has been long
awaited. The authors are to be congratulated on completing
such a difficult, but worth while piece of research.
It forms an excellent companion to those classics dealing
with late Cretaceous and Tertiary planktonic assemblages
by, for example, Blow, Berggren, Bolli and Cushman and
the more recent work of Caron, Robaszynski and so on.
It is bound to become a standard reference for years
to come. Particularly important is the fact that type
and reference material has been gathered together from
different countries and, in many cases, properly illustrated
for the first time. The text is very readable and informative,
but concise, and arranged in a taxonomic rather than
noticed very few errors, but knowing the quality of
other work carried out by the authors, that is not surprising.
However, one lapsus calami that hit me in the eye is
where Suborder Globigerinina Delage and Hérouard,
1896 on page 20 became Order Globigerinina Delage and
Hérouard, 1986 on page 54.
book starts with a short introduction on planktonic
foraminiferal morphology and wall structure. Although
brief it is an important section as it defines the morphological
characteristics used in the descriptions later in the
book. The morphological features are well illustrated
and a number of examples are given of each.
second chapter deals with the earliest planktonic foraminifera,
those from the mid and late Jurassic. The authors give
a very readable discussion on origins before going on
to the systematics. One of the useful features of the
work are the keys to genera which are found in a number
of places throughout the book. As a biostratigrapher
asked to work on sometimes unfamiliar faunas from a
number of different parts of the world, it is extremely
useful to have a ready passage into the intricacies
of the taxonomy. The keys lift the value of the book
rendering it an excellent desk top tool for us "microscope
the authors have not gone into formal systematic palaeontology
in the book. It is not a monograph. But an adequate
synonymy list is given, remarks indicate the similarities
and differences of related taxa and the geographical
and stratigraphical range is given for each species.
Where new taxa are erected, a diagnosis is also given.
remainder of the book (almost 200 pages, divided into
13 chapters) is devoted to early and mid Cretaceous
taxa. Chapter 3 forms a brief introduction, and the
subsequent chapters deal with the Favusellidae, Praehedbergellidae
(Gorbachikella, Praehedbergella, Blefuscuiana and Lilliputianella,
Lilliputianelloides and Wondersella), Schackoinidae,
Hedbergellidae and Planomalinidae. In all about 120
Cretaceous species and 22 genera are discussed and illustrated,
the great majority with good quality SEM photomicrographs.
It is this part of the book that is the most valuable,
for its excellent illustrations, synonymy and remarks
go a long way to solving problems that biostratigraphers
and taxonomists encounter. The range of each species
is given in the text and shown in a range chart.
book is perfect and I find two main areas of criticism.
The first is in the detail of the stratigraphical range
charts. The rarity of planktonic species in the Jurassic
is such that the full range of most species is not fully
understood. In the Cretaceous, however, planktonic foraminifera
are more numerous and their stratigraphical ranges better
known. Yet the range charts can only be used to the
stage or substage level. With a few exceptions, no attempt
has been made to calibrate ranges by reference to the
standard macrofaunal zones (or other microfaunal schemes).
So Blefuscuiana infracretacea, for example, first
appears in the late early Aptian and Blefuscuiana
aptiana orientalis becomes extinct in the early
late Aptian. Surely it is possible to be more accurate
than this. And when I see so many inceptions or extinctions
coinciding exactly with a stage or substage boundary,
I become suspicious.
second criticism can be laid at the feet of Chapman
& Hall rather than the authors. The plates are excellent
in quality and in terms of the information in the plate
captions, but why are they not given page numbers? I
referred to the index to find the plate illustrating
Blefuscuiana infracretacea- page 149. Flicking
through the book for page 149 I found there are no page
numbers between pages 133 and 163! Those readers who
want to use the book as a desk top tool will find that
they will save time, in the long run, if they take a
pen and spend ten minutes inserting the pagination in
manuscript. Please Chapman & Hall, in future, put
chapter headers and page numbers on the plates!
can thoroughly recommend this book. It has world wide
applications. It is a must for all who work with planktonic
foraminifera. It will prove valuable to students at
universities for both undergraduates working on micropalaeontological
modules and for post-graduates working towards a masters
degree or doctorate. But it will prove just as valuable
to those in industry who recognise the importance of
microfaunas as stratigraphical tools and their applications
in palaeoecological and palaeogeographical modelling.
isn't it good to see authors who can spell "planktonic"
correctly (those planktic authors please take note).
P. Wilkinson, British Geological Survey. Nottingham,
on Early Land Plant Spores from...
STUDIES ON EARLY LAND PLANT SPORES FROM BRITAIN
Edited by C. J. Cleal. Special Papers in Palaeontology
no. 55, £45. ISBN 0-901702-59-5. ISSN 0038-6804.
Members of the Palaeontological Association can purchase
a single copy for a 25% discount (+£1-50 P&P)
from the Marketing Manager. Non-members can obtain copies
from Blackwell Publishers, Journals, P.O. Box 805, 108
Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4 1FH, UK.
145 page publication of the Palaeontological Association
contains four papers which deal with aspects of Ordovician,
Silurian and Devonian spores from the United Kingdom.
As the preface (by C. J. Cleal) points out, an understanding
of the development of terrestrial vegetation is important
to the study of the evolution of higher plants, the
development of the terrestrial environment and, thus,
the evolution of the higher animals.
first paper, by John Richardson, deals with the taxonomy
and classification of some early Devonian (Gedinnian)
cryptospores from England. The paper proposes the division
of the cryptospores into two major informal groups,
the eucryptospores and paracryptospores, as well as
describing several new taxa, suprageneric groupings
(turmae, suprasubturmae etc.) and proposing a revised
cryptospore classification scheme. Paracryptospores
possess an identical sculpture on a variety of spore
units (tetrads, triads, dyads and hilate monads), whereas
each eucryptospore species usually have a sculptural
type restricted to a single spore unit (tetrads, pseudodyads,
dyads or monads, but never triads). Richardson likens
paracryptospores to similar abnormal spore associations
in modern hybrid ferns and suggests that if hybridization
were a common and recurrent theme (only a single species
of paracryptospore is described) it would have had a
considerable impact on the pattern and rates of early
land plant evolution. The paper concludes with some
biological considerations on the paracryptospores and
eucryptospores and the plants which produced them.
sporomorphs of the 'Lower Old Red Sandstone' of Lorne,
Scotland, are discussed in the next paper by Charles
Wellman and John Richardson. Well preserved cryptospores
and miospores are described from probable lacustrine
deposits (hopefully giving a true reflection of the
local flora) lying beneath the radiometrically aged
Lorne lavas. The sporomorph assemblages have allowed
an earliest Devonian age to be proposed (based on the
presence of crassitate trilete spores with large distinct
apiculae and the absence of various taxa and morphological
characteristics) and have brought into question previously
proposed correlations between the island of Kerrera
and mainland Scotland. The Lorne assemblages are compared
with other late Silurian-early Devonian assemblages
from Southern Britain, Scotland, the Ardennes-Rhenish
area, Amoricain Massif, Cantabrian Mountains, Podolia
Wellman goes on to describe cryptospores from the generally
near shore marine sequences of the type Caradoc area,
Shropshire, providing further insight into the sparsely
documented Ordovician cryptospores. Wellman also examines
aspects of cryptospore classification, morphology, affinity
and evolution and details previous reports of Ordovician
sporomorphs from around the globe. The stratigraphical
distribution and zonation of Ordovician and early Silurian
sporomorphs is discussed, as is the phytogeographical
scheme of Gray et al., which divides Ordovician and
early Silurian sporomorph assemblages into Malvinokaffric
and extra-Malvinokaffric Realms.
final paper by Cedric Shute, Alan Hemsley & Paul
Strother reassesses dyads contained in a late Silurian
(Prídolí) sporangium from the Welsh Borderland
by using both transmitted light and confocal laser scanning
microscopy (CLSM). A rhyniophytoid affinity is suggested
for the sporangium and numerous dyads were noted to
contain granular bodies (interpreted as mineralization
products of the degredational remnants of the entire
cell contents) and have inner membranes, which CLSM
work suggests are of a non-sporopollenin composition,
surrounding organic rich regions. Shute et al. conclude
that the dyads represent meiospores.
have only one gripe. The revised classification scheme
proposed for the cryptospores in the first paper is
not used in the systematic sections of the second and
third papers. That over, I can only say that the material
throughout this Special Paper is beautifully illustrated
by transmitted light and scanning electron microphotographs
and as a whole attains the very high standards one expects
from a Palaeontological Association publication.
Mullins, Department of Geology, University of Portsmouth,
Burnaby Building, Burnaby Road, Portsmouth PO1 3QL,
AND OCEANIC ENVIRONMENTS
Alicia Moguilevsky & Robin Whatley (eds.). University
of Wales, Aberystwyth Press. ISBN 0 903 878 74 7. 1996,
434 pp., £25.00. [ * Copies can be obtained from
either editor, at the Institute of Earth Studies, University
of Wales, Aberystwyth, SY23 3DB, U .K.]
April 1994 the Institute of Earth Studies, University
of Wales, Aberystwyth (UWA) and the British Micropalaeontological
Society convened an International Conference entitled
"ODP and the Marine Biosphere" at UWA. Surprisingly,
bearing in mind the contribution micropalaeontology
has made to the DSDP and ODP since these projects began
in 1968, it has taken so long to organise such a meeting.
This excellent collection of 25 papers presents the
cream of the presentations and is a fitting tribute
to the success of the 3-day extravaganza so ably organized
by the editors and their colleagues.
volume is divided into six chapters: Palaeoceanography
- Benthos; Palaeoceanography - Plankton; New techniques
and Applications; Ecology; Stratigraphy and Biostratigraphy;
and Evolution. The bulk of the papers (respectively,
6 and 9 in number) occur in the first two chapters,
with 4 papers in Stratigraphy and Biostratigraphy, and
2 each in the other three chapters. There is something
for every shade of micropalaeontologist here: foraminifera
(11 papers), nannofossils (7 papers), ostracods (5 papers),
radiolaria (4 papers), diatoms (2 papers), as well as
dinoflagellates (1 paper) being covered. In terms of
stratigraphic coverage, the Neogene and the Cretaceous
have the most offerings, although there are several
on the K/T boundary including a major synthesis on stratigraphic
completeness and planktonic survivorship by Norman MacLeod.
Admitting my own bias, the two papers on new techniques
- the isolation and amplification of the 18S Ribosomal
RNA gene from planktonic foraminifera using gametogenic
specimens by Kate Darling (and her co-workers), and
automated biometrics on captured light microscope images
of coccoliths by Jeremy Young et al. - both caught my
eye. There are several advances in biozonation, notably
Chapman et al.'s high resolution Pliocene planktonic
foraminiferal zonation for the tropical North Atlantic,
the recognition of the Oligocene/Miocene boundary in
terms of radiolarian events (by Sanfilippo & Nigrini),
and a significant contribution to the late Cretaceous
nannofossil biostratigraphy of the Southern Ocean (by
Watkins and co-workers). Perhaps the most fascinating
chapters of all, however, are two devoted to a review
of endemism and the mechanisms of evolution of ostracods
on seamounts (from the ODP studies of Whatley, Boomer
well as being co-editor, Robin Whatley's contribution
to the fray is seen many times in the Volume, none more
so than in his plea (in the opening chapter) for the
role of ostracod studies in our understanding of the
deep sea, to be given the credit it certainly deserves.
The plea becomes a rant near the end, however, against
funding bodies, "icons of gadarene swine" and the like,
but what he is really saying will strike cords (and
not a few worries) with many of us as to the future
of this type of research (and it does make an entertaining
paperback has been beautifully produced in-house, mainly
thanks to the efforts of Alicia Moguilevsky and is the
epitome of what can be done with desk-top publishing;
the maps, diagrams and plates being particularly clear,
the paper is good quality, and all for £25. The
British Micropalaeontological Society can be proud to
be associated with it. The volume is aptly dedicated
to N. deB Hornibrook, a truly great micropalaeontologist,
who sadly died at the time the conference was being
Whittaker, Department of Palaeontology, The Natural
History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD.
CRETACEOUS DEEP-WATER BENTHIC FORAMINIFERA OF THE INDIAN
A.E.L. Holborn & M.A. Kaminski, The Grzybowski Foundation,
Special Publication No.4, 1997, 172pp.
book is a synthesis of Anne Holborn's Ph.D work and
Mike Kaminski's on the Deep Sea Drilling Project and
Ocean Drilling Program Holes in the Indian Ocean. Anne
Holborn is an good foraminiferal specialist who has
been trained by Dr. M. Kaminski in the same field as
his speciality. Mike Kaminski is one of the most distinguished
small, simple benthonic foraminifera scientist. He has
an impressive publication record on small, simple agglutinated
foraminifera (similar to those found in the North Sea).
Their efficient expertise provided us with a comprehensive
monograph on the Lower Cretaceous deep-water small benthonic
foraminifera of the eastern Indian Ocean, offshore Australia,
collected by various ocean drilling expeditions of over
this is a detailed taxonomical study of 260 foraminifera,
illustrated in 53 plates. However, the authors investigate
also the biostratigraphic distribution of these species
global and revise the chornostratigraphy, palaeoecology
and palaeobathymetry of the Lower Cretaceous Ocean.
the whole, the book is well presented. The format, quality
of paper, font and style of illustrations are excellent.
Detailed range charts and detailed distribution charts
of every site are well presented.
study leads the way for a better understanding of global
distribution of deep sea small benthonic foraminifera
and of stratigraphy of Lower Cretaceous Oceans. Therefore,
if you are a committed professional working with any
aspect of deep sea small benthonic foraminifera, Holborn
and Kaminski's book is essential and you should have
it on your desk,
Fadel, Micropalaeontology Unit, Geological Sciences,
University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E
Tomas, C.R. (ed.) Academic Press 1997. £57. 858pp.
ISBN 0-12-693018-X (Pbk).
weighty tome is a paperback version of the combined
hardbacks Marine Phytoplankton: a guide to naked flagellates
and coccolithophorids (1993) and Identifying Marine
Diatoms and Dinoflagellates (1996). There are four main
contributions, all from recognised scientists whose
work has spanned several decades. With this line-up
the book promises much and doesn't disappoint. However,
anyone looking for a revised version from the hardbacks
will be disappointed as the editor makes it perfectly
clear from the start that "a complete revision was not
possible at this time". The editor also explains that
one of the reasons for producing the paperback version,
was to eliminate errors found in the hardbacks - it
is true that few typographical or scientific errors
still exist (or existed even in the hardbacks), although
in Heimdal's chapter some of the page references within
the text refer to the hardback page numbering system
and so will undoubtably cause some confusion. The editor
also decided right from the start to allow each contribution
to retain its own style and content, so that the chapters
are suited to the needs of workers in each discipline,
which bearing in mind that different techniques of collection,
preparation and identification are required for each
taxonomic group, this choice is understandable.
diatom chapter by Hasle & Syvertsen is the longest
contribution and a monument to the amazing career of
Grethe Hasle. The chapter draws heavily on her published
articles (of which only 79 are referenced in this chapter)
and her experience of observing marine diatoms from
every corner of the globe. As there are an enormous
amount of species present in the oceans today, the authors
were forced to limit themselves to selected examples
of only truly planktonic diatoms. Whilst this may be
slightly disappointing to some workers who are dying
for a complete illustrated guide to marine diatoms (i.e.
one that also includes all the brackish species that
may be found in your samples), such an undertaking is
probably beyond the realms of the publishing world and
must wait for an ambitious person (who has nothing else
to do) to stick all the information onto a CD ROM (I
am waiting but not volunteering !!).
dinoflagellate chapter by Steidinger & Tangen is
presented in a similar style to the diatom chapter,
with selected species being used to illustrate the most
important genera. An innovative ploy used by the authors
here was the use of dinoflagellate silhouettes as a
means of teaching shape recognition. It seems to work
well for this group and could be used for others, although
silhouettes of coccospheres may not be so instructive
as many are spherical and most are below 20 µm.
marine flagellate chapter by Throndsen is presented
in a different style to the previous two, as most of
the flagellates are naked and do not produce mineralised
or rigid structures. Thus shape may be highly variable.
The species determination of this group depends more
on the cell ultrastructure and the colour and composition
of the pigments, and although many are rarely fossilized
they may play an important role in marine processes.
In this group are some of the big bloom producers and
toxic algae, but it also includes some familiar organisms
like the silicoflagellates and ebridians. Here, we are
introduced to the somewhat amusingly named Cafeteria
Fenchel & Patterson, which sadly is colourless not
coffee-coloured. Unfortunately, my other favourites
by the same author (Massisteria Larsen & Patterson,
Toshiba Patterson & Zölffel and Kamera lens
(Woodcock) Patterson & Zölffel) received no
mention. I guess as we describe more and more new taxa,
choosing good names and the pitfalls of homonymy will
become an increasing burden, causing some to resort
to naming their new species after laboratory appliances.
coccolithophorid chapter by Heimdal provides a useful
summary of the terminology, taxonomy and ecology as
was known before the 1990's. Since then coccolithophorid
research, probably unlike the other 3 groups discussed
here, has gone exponential, receiving funds for major
international projects concerned mostly with the bloom-forming
Emiliania huxleyi. Results from these projects and two
coccolithophorid books have added a lot of new information.
Also the taxonomy and terminology of the coccolithophorids
have been recently reviewed and revised. This apart,
the majority of the descriptions presented in Heimdal's
chapter are still extremely useful and so for the moment
this chapter is one of the best sources of available
information on species identification.
chapter contains its own index in addition to the one
at the back of the book, and the reference lists are
extensive. All chapters have lists of common synonyms,
and in two of the them the terminology section has Greek
and Latin derivations. Most plates contain high-quality
drawings, although some electron micrographs exist,
which is in keeping with one of the book's main aims
- to identify phytoplankton from water samples where
possible. The cost of this book (£57) is very
reasonable indeed considering its length (858 pages)
and that each chapter is written by one or two of the
leaders in their respective fields. The book is aimed
at both experts and beginners alike, and I for one discovered
a lot of interesting snippets hidden away in the text
of each chapter. Admittedly, this book is for biologists,
but Quaternary specialists should have a copy of this
on their shelves, because many of the species illustrated
here (except most of those in the flagellate chapter)
have fossil records.
W. Jordan, Department of Earth & Environmental
Sciences, Faculty of Science, Yamagata University, Yamagata,
AND PALAEOECOLOGY OF LATE NEOGENE BENTHIC FORAMINIFERA
FROM THE CARIBBEAN SEA AND EASTERN EQUATORIAL PACIFIC
Bornmalm, L. Fossils and Strata, Scandinavian University
Press, Oslo, Norway, No. 41, 96pp., 1997. ISBN 82-00-37666-4.
monograph describes the benthic foraminifera (>125
µm) from two Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP)
Sites in the Caribbean Sea (Site 502) and the eastern
equatorial Pacific Ocean (Site 503) from the terminal
Miocene (5.5 Ma) to the basal Pleistocene (1.7 Ma).
The objectives of the study were as follows: (1) to
analyse changes in absolute abundance and diversity
of deep-sea benthic foraminifera; (2) to analyse fluctuations
in the coarse fraction of the sediment (>63 µm),
calcite dissolution based on the degree of fragmentation
of planktonic foraminifera, flux of organic matter to
the sea floor based on accumulation rates of benthic
foraminifera; and (3) to analyse the taxonomy and illustrate
the benthic foraminifera using scanning electron microscopy.
The study focuses on the palaeoceanographic implications
of the closure of the Isthmus of Panama in the middle
Pliocene (3.5-3.0 Ma).
monograph opens with an abstract which is followed by
a comprehensive contents page. The monograph is divided
into four main sections: introduction, results, palaeoceanographic
interpretations and taxonomic description of selected
species. The introduction provides background to the
research, present day oceanographic setting of the area
and the material and methods used. The results are presented
under the following headings: coarse-fraction analysis,
fragmentation patterns, benthic foraminifer accumulation
rates (BFAR), calcium carbonate content, stable isotopes,
diversity of the benthic foraminifer faunas, faunal
composition, faunal differences between the holes and
Q-mode principal components analysis. The text is interspersed
with many graphs which show comparisons of the data
from the two Sites. The raw data are shown in a number
of large tables interspersed with the main text. In
my opinion, it would have been better to have put these
data in appendices at the end of the monograph, as are
the counts of benthic foraminifera, particularly since
some of them take up whole pages. The results section
presents a lot of new and important data. I do feel,
however, that there are not enough graphs showing abundance
fluctuations of the commonly occurring benthic foraminiferal
taxa. Reliance has been placed on statistical methods,
particularly Q-mode principal components analysis, but
only changes in absolute abundances of three common
taxa (Nuttallides umbonifera, Cibicidoides
wuellerstorfi and Oridorsalis umbonatus)
are shown as graphs. I realise that absolute abundances
of benthic foraminifera were one of the main focuses
of attention, but, in my opinion it would have been
important, and interesting, to have shown something
on relative abundance (%) fluctuations of selected taxa
as a comparison.
next section deals with the palaeoceanographic interpretations
of the results with particular reference to the closure
of the Isthmus of Panama. Some interesting points emerge
but the discussion is not very well focused.
remainder and bulk (~60%) of the monograph, is devoted
to the taxonomy of selected benthic foraminiferal taxa
from the study area, most of which have a cosmopolitan
distribution. The classification scheme used chiefly
follows Loeblich and Tappan (1964, 1987). Over 130 species
are discussed and most are illustrated by scanning electron
micrographs (15 plates) which are interspersed in the
text. Each species includes a synonymy list, a brief
description, in most cases remarks on their taxonomic
position and in some cases, if available, some very
useful information concerning their ecology based on
the literature. Sadly, there are no detailed discussions
of how the species of particular genera can be distinguished
from one another. The taxonomy section is followed by
a list of references but no conclusions of the research
this publication presents some useful and interesting
information. Although it is aimed more at the specialist,
it would be of interest to both micropalaeontologists
W. Smart, Department of Geological Sciences, University
of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, Devon PL4 8AA.
A. R. and Tappan, H. 1964. Protista 2. Sarcodina chiefly
'Thecamoebians' and Foraminiferida. In: Moore, R. C.
(ed.) Treatise on invertebrate paleontology,
Part C, 2 vols. Geological Society of America and University
of Kansas Press, Boulder, Colorado and Lawrence, Kansas.
A. R. and Tappan, H. 1987. Foraminiferal genera and
their classification. Van Nostrand Reinhold Company,
BENTHIC FORAMINIFERA FROM CRETACEOUS-PALEOGENE BOUNDARY
STRATA IN THE SOUTH ATLANTIC - TAXONOMY AND PALEOECOLOGY
Widmark, J. G. V., 1997, Fossils & Strata, 43, 94pp
Oslo; $29.00; ISBN 82-00-37667-2 ISSN 0300-9491.
monograph presents the results of a taxonomical study
of deep-sea benthic foraminifera from Deep-Sea Drilling
Project (DSDP) cores 525 (Walvis Ridge) and 527 (Angola
Basin) across the Cretaceous-Paleogene (better known
as the Cretaceous-Tertiary or K-T) boundary. The stated
rationale for the investigation is to compare patterns
of benthic foraminiferal response to latest Masstrichtian-earliest
Danian environmental events from localities representing
the same biogeographical province, but different depths.
Unfortunately, the bulk of the material presented represents
a simple taxonomic overview of the 132 genera and species
recovered from a total of 36 samples in both cores.
No new species are described; no generic descriptions
are included; the detail with which species are described
varies considerably; occurrence information is restricted
to the two cores actually studied; no detailed biostratigraphical
data are provided; described species are illustrated
by only a single SEM photomicrograph, often of a poorly-preserved
specimen. Moreover, no attempt is made to analyze the
data collected from these two cores, to conduct any
real comparison between the data collected for this
study and the results of other studies, or to use these
data to test any independently-established hypothesis
concerning patterns of faunal turnover. Widmark does
provide an introductory section in which he reviews
several previous K-T benthic foraminiferal studies,
but his review is highly idiosyncratic and fails to
come to any conclusion regarding the observed patterns
of K-T deep-sea benthic foraminiferal turnover or the
of environmental factors responsible for these patterns.
Most seriously though, his discussions of the individual
studies often misrepresent their authors' arguments
by failing to mention important observations, cite relevant
papers, or provide adequate descriptions of alternative
example, in reviewing alternative interpretations of
K-T faunal turnover patterns at Brazos River, Texas,
Widmark argues that Keller's (1989a, 1992) data "are
somewhat difficult to evaluate since [she] placed the
[K-T] boundary considerably higher than in other studies
on the general stratigraphy of the Gulf Coastal Plain"
(Widmark 1997, p. 10) In fact, Keller's data are very
well documented (see Keller 1989a,b, tables 1-7, figures
4-9) and allow anyone to evaluate the pattern of faunal
turnover that would obtain under alternative K-T boundary
placements. Keller (1989a,b) followed Jiang and Gartner's
(1986) placement of the Brazos River K-T boundary at
the horizon that contains the K-T iridium anomaly and
the first occurrence of Tertiary microfossils (planktonic
foraminifera and calcareous nannoplankton) in those
sections. Widmark correctly states, other authors place
the Brazos River K-T boundary at the base of the so-called
"tsunami bed" (Bourgeois et al. 1988) but neglects
to mention that the interpretation of these units as
representing tsunami deposits has been questioned by
many (e.g., Montgomery et al. 1992, Savarda 1993,
Beeson et al. 1994, Yancey 1995). Ultimately,
the question boils down to one of the stratigraphic
criteria one accepts in correlating the Brazos K-T boundary
to that of the El Kef boundary stratotype. At El Kef
the K-T boundary is marked by the iridium anomaly and
the first appearance of Tertiary microfossils. This
is consistent with Jiang & Gartner's (1986) and
Keller's (1989a,b) placement. Smit et al. (1994), Smit
et al. (1995), Pospichal (1995) and a few others
prefer to place the Brazos K-T boundary at the base
of the (questionable) "tsunami" deposit and argue that
both the "tsunami" bed and the iridium anomaly form
part of a "boundary complex" that was deposited over
hours to days and so, for the purposes of correlation,
should be considered coeval with the El Kef iridium
anomaly en toto. Montgomery et al. (1992), on
the other hand, argue that Danian planktonic foraminifer
assignable to Zone P1a are present within the "tsunami"
bed, suggesting that this unit was actually deposited
some 200,000 years after the K-T impact and is not of
tsunami origin. [Note: the occurrence of Danian microfossils
in the "tsunami" unit has not been confirmed by any
review of this controversy fails to mention any of these
relevant factors, but seems to imply that Keller's placement
of the Brazos K-T boundary is in some way linked to
Keller's (1992) interpretation that "only two species
(17%) of Cretaceous [benthic foraminiferal] species
ranged across the [K-T] boundary at Brazos River (Keller
1992)" (Widmark 1997, p. 10). Referring back to Keller
(1992, p. 82) we find the following statement. "Only
2 species (17%) (Lenticulina muensteri and Anomalinoides
newmanae) are common throughout the K-T transition
and these species significantly increase near the boundary
and dominate the early post-K-T environment" (italics
mine). The difference between identifying two common
Cretaceous benthic foraminiferal species that survived
the K-T boundary and do not exhibit excursions in relative
abundance that might indicate the existence of an environmental
perturbation at the Brazos River iridium anomally, and
being reported to have said that these were the only
two benthic species to have survived the K-T event,
is rather an extreme mis-statement on the part of the
reviewer. In point of fact Keller's (1992) data show
a progressive transition in the benthic foraminiferal
fauna across the K-T boundary at Brazos River with only
two very rare species locally disappearing coincident
with the K-T iridium anomaly (Fig. 1). If the alternative
K-T boundary placement is used the turnover pattern
remains the same and no species extinctions coincide
with this putative K-T boundary, despite the fact that
the alternative placement coincides with a universally-acknowledged
hiatus of unmeasured duration within the local section.
idea that hiatuses are related to perceived extinction
patterns is the cause of another error in Widmark's
review. A bit further on in his discussion Widmark argues
that the low numbers (22%) of benthic species extinctions
coinciding with the K-T boundary at a deep-sea locality
represented by DSDP Site 465 provide evidence that this
section deep-sea cores is complete across the K-T boundary.
These data are also used to imply that most deep-water
marine cores contain a continuous record of K-T biotas
and environmental events. In any section or core in
which 22% of the biota disappear at a single horizon,
that horizon must be considered a potential hiatus surface,
especially if the global last occurrence datums for
these taxa are known to be separated in time in other
sections/cores. At the very least independent evidence
should be examined to determine if other biostratigraphic
patterns indicate continuous sediment accumulation or
the presence of a hiatus. In this instance Widmark fails
to mention that the first planktonic foraminifera found
in the sediments above the Site 465 K-T boundary belong
to Zone P1a, suggesting that the lowermost Danian biozone
(Zone P0) is indeed missing in this core and supporting
the interpretation of a deep-sea K-T boundary hiatus
(see MacLeod & Keller 1991 and references cited
blatant examples of mis-statement and selective citation
do not inspire confidence in Widmark's ability to review
relevant aspects of the of K-T benthic foraminiferal
turnover record in a comprehensive and scholarly manner.
Moreover, Widmark exhibits a disturbing tendency to
uncritically transplant outmoded and oversimplified
ecological concepts to the interpretation of his paleontological
data [Note: compare Widmark's statements concerning
K-selection and r-selection patterns in benthic foraminifera
to standard ecological discussions (e.g., Krebs 1978,
Ricklefs 1979, Boyce 1984, Andrewartha & Birch 1984),
of how these concepts have been rendered virtually meaningless
due to similar types of oversimplification in the present
instance to the point of caricature and misuse.]
sum, there is very little to recommend this monograph
as an adequate contribution to the systematics of Cretaceous
and Paleogene benthic foraminiferal systematic studies
or to the various K-T boundary controversies. Those
who consult this monograph should be aware that they
will need to recheck virtually all of the author's statements
to make sure he has not left important aspects of previous
authors' statements undiscussed and/or unreferenced.
Considering the very small amount of new data and interpretation
included in this work, it would be better to proceed
directly to the original systematic and data analytic
literature on these topics topic and/or consult alternative
reviews (e.g., Hallam & Wignall 1997). More is the
pity, because a high-quality, comprehensive review of
K-T benthic foraminiferal studies by an experienced
foraminiferal researcher, as well as a rigorous systematic
and paleobiological analysis of the author's data would
have been useful.
MacLeod, Department of Palaeontology, Natural History
Museum, South Kensington, London SW7 5BD.
H. G. and Birch, L. C., 1984, The Ecological Web:
More on the Distribution and Abundance of Animals:
Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 506p.
D., Gartner, S., Keller, G., MacLeod, N., Medus, J.,
Rocchia, R., and Robin, E., 1994, The KT boundary along
the Brazos River, Falls County, Texas: Multidisciplinary
Stratigraphy and Depositional Environment: Lunar
and Planetary Contribution, v. 825, p. 910.
J., Hansen, T. A., Wiberg, P. L., and Kauffman, E. G.,
1988, A tsunami deposit at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary
in Texas: Science, v. 241, p. 557-570.
M. S., 1984, Restitution of r- and K- selection as a
model of density-dependent selection: Annual Review
of Ecology and Systematics, v. 15, p. 427447.
A. and Wignall, P. B., 1997, Mass Extinctions and
their Aftermath: Oxford, Oxford Science Publications,
M. J. and Gartner, S., 1986, Calcareous nannofossil
succession across the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary in
east-central Texas: Micropaleontology, v. 32,
G., 1989a, Extended period of extinctions across the
Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary in planktonic foraminifera
of continental shelf sections: Implications for impact
and volcanism theories: Geological Society of America
Bulletin, v. 101, p. 1408-1419.
G., 1989b, Extended Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary extinctions
and delayed population change in planktonic foraminiferal
faunas from Brazos River, Texas: Paleoceanography,
v. 4, p. 287-332.
G., 1992, Paleoecologic response of Tethyan benthic
foraminifera to the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary transition.
in Takayanagi, Y. and Saito, T., eds., Studies in
Benthic Foraminifera, Benthos '90, Sendai, 1990,
Tokyo, Tokai University Press p. 77-91.
C. J., 1978, Ecology: The Experimental Analysis of
Distribution and Abundance, Second Edition: New
York, Harper & Row, 678 p.
N. and Keller, G., 1991, How complete are Cretaceous/Tertiary
boundary sections? A chronostratigraphic estimate based
on graphic correlation: Geological Society of America
Bulletin, v. 103, p. 1439-1457.
H., Pessagno, E. A. J., Soegaard, K., Smith, C., Muoz,
I., and Pessagno, J., 1992, Misconceptions concerning
the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary at the Brazos River,
Falls County, Texas: Earth and Planetary Science
Letters, v. 109, p. 593-600.
J. J., 1995, Calcareous nannofossil biostratigraphy
and abundance changes across the K-T boundary of northeastern
Mexico: Geological Society of America, Abstracts
with Programs, v. 27, p. A347.
R. E., 1979, Ecology, Second Edition: Concord,
Massachusetts, Chiron Press, 966 p.
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