...It is as a photographic guide that this book really excels. The descriptions are succinct, allowing focus on Ben Hyde’s photographs of some of the finer examples of each fossil. Descriptions and photographs are supplemented by information on the stratigraphic context of the fossil in question, and information on its occurrence. Tireless palaeoartist Nobumichi Tamura has provided reconstructions of many of the taxa, helping bring the Jurassic of Whitby to life. The fossils are grouped in a logical order, starting with some of the most common fossils found – the ammonites – and continuing through molluscs, echinoderms, arthropods, and on to some of the spectacular vertebrate finds. Plants are not left out, and are followed by some very useful information on trace fossils, pseudo-fossils, and the glacial erratics that can often confuse even experienced fossil collectors. The book is rounded off with some useful information, particularly for newcomers to the world of fossil hunting, such as the image showing likely finds on a first foray and tips on what to do with fossils once found.
The book is clearly pitched at first-time fossil collectors and newcomers to the Whitby coast, but they are by no means the only audience for this guide. It should appeal to the whole spectrum of fossil collectors, from beginner to experienced palaeontologist. As palaeontology is a very visual field, an illustrated guide is indispensible
Overall, Dean Lomax has provided an excellent book that does exactly what it says on the tin: it is a photographic guide to the fossils found along the Whitby coast and it does not disappoint. It should appeal to fossil lovers of all stripes, even those who cannot get to Yorkshire to collect, and has the ability to inspire readers to want to get out and explore the lost Jurassic world. I know that simply writing this review has whetted my appetite to get out there yet again and find some ammonites and other fantastic fossils. Full review (.pdf)...
. . . Many collection managers in charge of scientific collections in museums across the country will have fossil material labelled ‘Whitby’ or ‘Yorkshire Coast’. One cannot expect generalists to be able to identify the provenance of the specimens, but with this simply illustrated, well written and beautifully photographed guide by Dean Lomax, they can at least make a reasonable attempt. ‘Whitby is a fossil hunter’s paradise’ to use a phrase from the book, and this publication is one for amateurs and professionals, those who are not familiar with the coastal exposures to the north and south of Whitby, and those that are. Over 200 full colour and high quality photographs and illustrations are the basis of this guide which opens with plain English statements on aspects of field safety and the use of equipment. There follows twelve pages describing the geology of the coast in detail, and importantly in a fossil guide the nine best localities with their accessibility, geology and the find frequency and type of fossil. The bulk of the guide is devoted to the main fossil groups. Each has a line drawing naming the parts or a reconstruction drawing of the animal or both. The quality of the photographs is excellent with museum collections raided to populate the sections, and the descriptions are short and to the point. There is a short glossary, and a good list for further reading; a must for the library shelf of all naturalists who work along the Yorkshire Coast.
...This is a lovely book – the sort I would want to write. It is beautifully illustrated and well researched, with more than 200 glossy photographs and always interesting comments on the subject matters it touches upon. In short, it is a delight. Given the geology of the beautiful North Yorkshire coast, it is surprising that this is the first decent book on its fossils. The Palaeontological Society has produced a good one for the Lower Lias of the Dorset coast, but there is clearly a need for something on the equally impressive Upper and Middle Lias of this area. Therefore, it is great news that the author (and sometime contributor to this magazine) has covered the North Yorkshire coastline, from Staithes in the North, through places like Runswick Bay, to the splendid harbour of Whitby and the geologically iconic Robin Hood’s Bay, ending up at Ravenscar in the South. His little book provides information on each of the best fossil collecting locations, including information on the geology, the chances of finding fossils and access.
If I have a quibble, it is that the guide is aimed a bit too much at the beginner. There are the inevitable (and without doubt necessary) sections on safety, over-collecting, equipment, and so on – things the majority of people reading this review should already know. However, the best sections are those on the fossils themselves. The pictures and the descriptions are more than enough to inspire anybody, with any level of expertise, to identify and learn about their own palaeontological finds. Of course, Dean mentions the ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs and marine crocodiles, but if a novice goes to Whitby expecting to find one, disappointment will ensue. If they go hoping to find an ammonite as a result of this guide – perhaps a Hildoceras or Dactylioceras – then they will come home happy and that is no bad thing. Full review...
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