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
- De Wever, P. et al. – Radiolarians in the Sedimentary Record
- Aldridge, R.J. et al. – British Silurian Stratigraphy (Geological Conservation Review Series 19)
- Martin, R. E. – Environmental Micropalaeontology
- Abrantes, F. & Mix, A.C. (Eds) – Reconstructing Ocean History: A window into the Future
- Jones, R. W. & Simmons, M. D. – Biostratigraphy in Production and Development Geology
- Rushton, A.W.A. et al. – British Cambrian to Ordovician Stratigraphy (Geological Conservation Review Series 18)
- Scott, L. et al. (eds) – Palaeoecology of Africa and the Surrounding Islands – Volume 26
- Doyle, P. & Bennett, M. R. (eds) – Unlocking the Stratigraphical Record: Advances in Modern Stratigraphy
- Faure, H. et al. (eds) – Desert Margin Changes in Africa Since 135 ka: Implications for Water, Carbon and Mankind
- Landing, E. & Johnson, M. (eds) – Silurian Cycles: Linkages of Dynamic Stratigraphy with Atmospheric, Oceanic and Tectonic Changes
- Page, R. D. M. & Holmes, E. C. – Molecular Evolution A Phylogenetic Approach
- 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
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 light entertainment.
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
Silurian 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 is.
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 from microfossils.
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, 155-166
University of Leicester, UK
Palaeoecology 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.
Biostratigraphy 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 data hard
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.
Unlocking 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 good value.
Palaeoecology 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, Rotterdam.
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
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 errors.
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 conferences.
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 the future.
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
British 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, JNCC.
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 potential.’
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
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 Wales.
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 variability.
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
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 I use?
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 contribution.
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), 964-972.
Radiolarians 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 features.
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.
|Initial spicule ‘+/-‘|
|Relation of spicule to first shell|
|Morphology of spicule|
|Skeletal growth pattern|
|No. spines/arms ?|
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 pages.
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 and evolution.
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, 433 p.
KIESSLING, W. 1999. Upper Jurassic Radiolarians from the Antarctic Peninsula. Micropaleontology Supplement, 45:1-96.
F. John Gregory
Natural History Museum, UK
& Kronos Consultants, UK
At 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 “copy yourself”.
Dawkins 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.
As 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.
The 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.
The 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.
The 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 all about.
The 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.
The 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.
I 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.
This 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.
Kim Freedman, Department of Geology, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester LE1 7RH.
There’s 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 output.
The 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.
Inevitably, 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.
Richard J. Aldridge, Professor of Palaeontology, Department of Geology, The University, Leicester LE1 7RH, U.K.
This 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.
The 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.
At 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.
So 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.
Understandably 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.
As 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.
Alvarez L.W., Alvarez W., Asaro F. & Michel H.V., 1980. Extraterrestial cause for the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction. Science, 208, 1095-1108.
Herbert 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.
MacLeod N. and 21 others. The Cretaceous-Tertiary biotic transition. Journal of the Geological Society of London, 1254, 265-293.
Renne 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, 269, 1413-1416.
Jeremy Young, Department of Palaeontology, Natural History Museum, London SW7 5BD.
Paleontological Events: Stratigraphic,…
PALEONTOLOGICAL EVENTS: STRATIGRAPHIC, ECOLOGICAL AND EVOLUTIONARY IMPLICATIONS
Brett, C. E. and Baird, G. C. (Eds) 1997. Columbia University Press, New York, 604 pages. £52.00.
On 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.
Fortunately, 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.
The 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.
So 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 Events.
Giles Miller, Department of Palaeontology, Natural History Museum, South Kensington, London SW7 5BD
For 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.
The 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.
With 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.
As 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.
Benton 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 these topics.
Applied 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.
One 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 teaching.
Ivan Sansom, School of Earth Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT.
Dagmara 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 Podobina.
Mike Kaminski, Department of Geological Sciences, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT.
Cambrian Bradoriid and Phosphocopid…
CAMBRIAN BRADORIID AND PHOSPHATOCOPID ARTHROPODS OF NORTH AMERICA
Siveter, D. J. and Williams, M. 1997. Special Paper in Palaeontology 57. The Palaeontological Association, London. ISBN 0-901-702-61-7. £ 30.
This 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).
The 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).
Although 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).
Because 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.
All 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.
Jean Vannier, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, UMR 5565 du CNRS, 43, bd du 11 novembre 1918, 69622 Villeurbanne, France, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dieter Walossek, Section for Biosystematic Documentation, University of Ulm, Liststrasse 3, D-89079 Ulm, Germany, email@example.com
Cocks, 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.
Hinz, 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.
Hou, 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.
Matthew, 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), 29-84.
Melnikova, L. M., Siveter, D. J. & Williams, M. 1997: Cambrian Bradoriida and Phosphatocopida (Arthropoda) of the former Soviet Union. Journal of Micropalaeontology 16, 179-191.
Müller, K. J. 1979: Phosphatocopine ostracodes with preserved appendages from the Upper Cambrian of Sweden. Lethaia 12, 1-27.
Müller, 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, Chichester.
Vannier, J., Williams, M. & Siveter, D. J. 1997: The Cambrian origin of the circulatory system of crustaceans. Lethaia, 30, 169-184.
Walossek, 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.
Walossek, 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.
Williams, 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.
Williams, M. & Siveter, D. J. (in-press): British Cambrian and Tremadoc Bradoriida and Phosphatocopida (Arthropoda). Monograph of the Palaeontographical Society.
The 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.
There 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 biostratigraphical way.
I 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.
The 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.
The 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 jockeys”.
Thankfully 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.
The 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.
No 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.
The 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!
I 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.
And isn’t it good to see authors who can spell “planktonic” correctly (those planktic authors please take note).
Ian P. Wilkinson, British Geological Survey. Nottingham, U.K.
Studies 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.
This 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.
The 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.
The 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 and Bolivia.
Charles 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.
The 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.
I 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.
Gary Mullins, Department of Geology, University of Portsmouth, Burnaby Building, Burnaby Road, Portsmouth PO1 3QL, UK.
MICROFOSSILS 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.]
In 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.
The 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 and Larwood).
As 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 read!).
The 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 held.
John Whittaker, Department of Palaeontology, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD.
This 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 10 sites.
Essentially, 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.
On 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.
This 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,
Marcelle Fadel, Micropalaeontology Unit, Geological Sciences, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT.
This 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.
The 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 !!).
The 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.
The 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.
The 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.
Each 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.
Richard W. Jordan, Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, Yamagata University, Yamagata, 990 Japan.
TAXONOMY AND PALAEOECOLOGY OF LATE NEOGENE BENTHIC FORAMINIFERA FROM THE CARIBBEAN SEA AND EASTERN EQUATORIAL PACIFIC OCEAN
Bornmalm, L. Fossils and Strata, Scandinavian University Press, Oslo, Norway, No. 41, 96pp., 1997. ISBN 82-00-37666-4. USD 29.00.
This 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).
The 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.
The 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.
The 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 are given.
Overall, this publication presents some useful and interesting information. Although it is aimed more at the specialist, it would be of interest to both micropalaeontologists and palaeoceanographers.
Chris W. Smart, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, Devon PL4 8AA.
Loeblich, 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.
Loeblich, A. R. and Tappan, H. 1987. Foraminiferal genera and their classification. Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, New York.
DEEP-SEA 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.
This 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 interpretations.
For 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 other investigator.].
Widmark’s 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.
The 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 therein).
Such 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.]
In 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.
Norman MacLeod, Department of Palaeontology, Natural History Museum, South Kensington, London SW7 5BD.
Andrewartha, H. G. and Birch, L. C., 1984, The Ecological Web: More on the Distribution and Abundance of Animals: Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 506p.
Beeson, 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.
Bourgeois, 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.
Boyce, 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.
Hallam, A. and Wignall, P. B., 1997, Mass Extinctions and their Aftermath: Oxford, Oxford Science Publications, 328 p.
Jiang, M. J. and Gartner, S., 1986, Calcareous nannofossil succession across the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary in east-central Texas: Micropaleontology, v. 32, p. 232-255.
Keller, 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.
Keller, 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.
Keller, 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.
Krebs, C. J., 1978, Ecology: The Experimental Analysis of Distribution and Abundance, Second Edition: New York, Harper & Row, 678 p.
MacLeod, 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.
Montgomery, 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.
Pospichal, 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.
Ricklefs, R. E., 1979, Ecology, Second Edition: Concord, Massachusetts, Chiron Press, 966 p.
Savrda, C. E., 1993, Ichnostratigraphic evidence for non-catastrophic origin pf Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary sands in Alabama: Geology, v. 21, p. 1075-1078.
Smit, J., Alvarez, W., and Clayes, S., 1995, Tsunami induced sandstone beds at the KT boundary around the Gulf of Mexico: Consequences of the Chicxulub impact: Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programmes, v. 27, p. S347.