OSTRACODS IN BRITISH STRATIGRAPHY, edited by J.E.Whittaker and M.D.Hart. The Geological Society for the Micropalaeontological Society, London, 2009. No. of pages: viii+485. Price: £100-00. ISBN 978-1-86239- 274-8 (hardback).

Christopher R. C. Paul*, * Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Queen's Road, Bristol BS8 1RJ, United Kingdom

Ostracods in British Stratigraphy is, in effect, a revision of the award-winning A Stratigraphical Index of British Ostracoda, published by the then British Micropalaeontological Society in 1978 (Bate and Robinson, 1978). It is more than just an addendum to the original version, but nevertheless inevitably invites comparisons. I am pleased to say that the original high quality of both information and production has been maintained, whilst the coverage has been extended. After a preface explaining the origins of the new volume, the book commences immediately with the stratigraphic chapters. Almost without exception, each chapter contains sections on ‘History of research’, ‘Principal collections’, ‘Ostracod palaeobiogeography’, ‘Ostracod biostratigraphy’, ‘Ostracod palaeoecology’ and ‘Future research’. Thus, there is an excellent, consistent standard in all chapters. Each chapter contains range charts and very high quality plates of SE micrographs. All the latter are new. There is no doubt that the volume is essential to anyone currently researching on British stratigraphy, micropalaeontology and especially ostracods. Thus, it achieves its stated aims.

New features found in this volume and not in the previous one include a chapter on the Cambrian. Strictly speaking there are no Cambrian ostracods, but ostracod-like bivalved arthropods do occur and this chapter has been included for completeness. The Cambrian chapter differs from all the others in that the range chart is arranged in order of first occurrences. The Ordovician chapter shows the most dramatic change in terms of numbers of taxa covered; ranges of 87 taxa are illustrated, 58 of which are figured in the plates. This compares with no stratigraphic range chart and only 15 taxa figured in Bate and Robinson (1978). Other chapters show much less change in coverage. For example, there is almost no change in numbers of taxa covered in the Carboniferous, Permian and Triassic periods.

Range charts are improved by arranging taxa in order of last occurrences, a most useful change for those dealing with subsurface geology. It also gives an immediate impression of levels of faunal turnover, especially extinctions. Range charts set ‘portrait’ cause my only criticism of the book in that one has to turn the book upside down to read the taxonomic names. Surely in the 21st century we can produce range charts with software that allows names to be inverted and instantly readable? Range charts in Bate and Robinson (1978) contained useful thumbnail sketches of each taxon. The new volume has numbers adjacent to both the plotted range and the taxonomic name at the edge, thus minimizing the risk of misreading ranges. It also enables far more species to be included in a single diagram.

The plates in the new volume maintain the excellent standard set in Bate and Robinson (1978). However, a far greater proportion of taxa are illustrated with a single external view of one valve compared to the earlier publication. This is not a volume to discover what hinge lines or muscle scars look like. Nevertheless, for those interested in identifying ostracods for stratigraphic purposes the volume is essential, particularly as Bate and Robinson (1978) has long been out of print. I wholeheartedly recommend it.


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  • Bate, R., Robinson, E. (Eds). 1978. A Stratigraphical Index of British Ostracoda. Geological Journal Special Issue 8: 1532.