Fossils

Fossils

343 certain, ten years should not elapse between the completion of a manuscript and its publication, as has happened with this volume. At £69, this vo...

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343 certain, ten years should not elapse between the completion of a manuscript and its publication, as has happened with this volume. At £69, this volume is expensive, even at present book prices, but certainly it, and the earlier volumes, should be in the geology section of every University library and should be studied with diligence. It might even foster the notion that there is still much field work to be done in the remoter regions of the world, for there is still a multitude of questions to be asked and answered about the Lower Palaeozoic Rocks of the World. D. W. HUMPHRIES(Sheffield, U.K.)

Exploring the Oceans. Henry S. Parker, Prentice Hall (Phalarope Books), "A Spectrum Book", 1985, 354 pp., $15.95, ISBN 0-13-297706-0.

Fossils. Richard Moody, Macmillan Field Guides, "Collier Books", 1986, 192 pp., $8.95, ISBN 0-02-063370-X. These two books, each said to be designed expressedly for the amateur, have quite different objectives, Parker caters to the armchair amateur, Moody to the outdoorsman. These differences are clearly reflected in the books themselves. In Exploring the Oceans, Parker adopts a didactic approach and both he and his publishers look to use of the book at high school or as an introductory level college text. In so doing he has to satisfy two different audiences, the amateur naturalist who takes up a subject because of interest and the audience from high schooI or college which more often than not may be fulfilling a school requirement. The attempt to write clear and simple explanations for the latter risks losing the former, the more mature, amateur naturalist. His opening and closing chapters in the form of travelogues fail to generate excitement or to sum up oceanography. The book in fact gives the impression of having been written as primarily a high school or possibly an elementary college level text with the amateur naturalist in secondary position rather than the reverse. In complete contrast Fossils is a working handbook. It assumes the reader is interested in his subject, and provides the preliminary details very concisely. There is no beating about the bush, the actual process of finding and identifying fossils occupies two thirds of the book and a sixth is devoted to the preliminaries. The author is conversant with the important role amateurs have played in the development of paleontology and if he is to be faulted it is because he has provided very little guide to the next step in more detailed study. Cross-referencing is also weak, I checked on brachiopods, pedicle and pedicle valves were mentioned, but not defined with no indication that these are illustrated in the glossary. With respect to content, contrasting the two books is less simple. Fossils has a simple focus, i t figures over 300 fossil genera, these are well illustrated and

344 the accompanying text refers to both European and American occurrences, a necessity for wider sales. There is obviously an element of choice in the selection of species figured. The author has to ensure representation of a wide variety of common species. However, if an amateur is collecting from a single outcrop then there is a better then even chance of collecting species not represented. The author provides very little help on how to deal with this beyond suggesting sources such as the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, museum or college. I think this is a flaw. Although Precambrian fossils are not extremely varied, they have been used for correlation much further back in the Precambrian than the author indicates in his figures, though the text partly covers this. That the time scale gives (p. 17) does not match up to those figures on the facing page is a little disconcerting. The content of Exploring the Oceans is balanced between geological and chemical oceanography, physical and biological oceanography in sections of approximately equal length. Not surprisingly given his background, the author appears most at home dealing with biological aspects, and least at home on the geological aspects. The reviewer, more at home with the latter and consequently more critical, noted some errors in the historical segment although these do not affect the main story eg. the absence of reference to Vening Meinesz and the Dutch school, the date on Wegener's book and the role of paleomagnetism in ocean exploration. There is no reason why any book presenting factual data should be dull reading and Parker has tried to produce a readable text. Perhaps his use of the personal pronouns is to induce a sense of participation, if so I don't think it is particularly successful; there are those who do not wish to be told what their reactions are or on what they may be pondering. Each chapter begins with a couple of paragraphs in a quasi-popular discursive manner designed to generate interest or introduce the themes for that chapter. Again for the reviewer this technique is not wholly successful. However, despite these objections the book does provide a good introduction to oceanography, and there may be many who will respond to the presentation method. In summary Fossils is a book designed for amateur naturalists which could find use in the schools while Exploring the Oceans is a book for the schools which could be used by the amateur naturalist. Both cover their respective fields, and both seem reasonable value for money. A. E. M. N A I R N (Columbia, S.C.)

L'environnement au temps de la Prdhistoire. Edited by J. Renault-Miskovsky, Masson, Paris, 1985, 183 pp., 160 FF, ISBN 2-225-80536-9. This book is devoted to a reconstruction of the physical setting and of the animal and vegetal environment of prehistoric man in Europe. It is voluntarily