Evolution of Fossil Ecosystems


  • Paul Selden, Distinguished Professor of Invertebrate Palaeontology and Director, Palaeontological Institute, University of Kansas, USA
  • John Nudds, Senior Lecturer in Palaeontology, School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Studies, University of Manchester, UK

The first edition of Evolution of Fossil Ecosystems was widely praised for its coverage and approach in describing and illustrating 14 well-known fossil sites from around the world. The authors have now updated the text and added 6 new chapters with many new color illustrations. Following a general introduction to fossil Lagerstätten, each chapter deals with a single site and follows the same format: its evolutionary position and significance; its background sedimentology, stratigraphy and palaeoenvironment; a description of the biota and palaeoecology; a comparison with other similar Lagerstätten; and a list of relevant museums and suggestions for visiting the sites. This study of exceptionally well-preserved fossil sites from different periods in geological time provides a picture of the evolution of ecosystems through the ages.
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Highly cross-disciplinary and has appeal for UG/grad students and professionals in palaeontology / palaeobiology, evolution, sedimentology, stratigraphy, earth sciences, biological sciences and environmental sciences.


Book information

  • Published: September 2012
  • ISBN: 978-0-12-404629-0


"This is the second edition of this fine book that first appeared about 10 years ago.  At that time it was seen as a breath of fresh air that shone a light onto areas of palaeontology that had previously only been the preserve of the expert through academic papers.  In this enlarged second edition the authors have retained the same high standard, have updated a number of chapters and, most importantly, have added new case studies from around the world."--Down to Earth Magazine, December 2012 (no. 81)
"In this update of the 2005 edition, paleontologists Selden…and Nudds…focus on sites in North America. Devoted to a site or related sites (e.g, Rancho La Brea near Los Angeles), each chapter provides information on its evolutionary context, discovery, subsequent research, stratigraphic setting, biota, paleoecology, and comparisons with similar sites worldwide."--Reference and Research Book News, February 2013

Praise for the first edition:

"Excellent book... It’s just the job for students and teachers, and the general fossil enthusiast will get a lot from this guide to some of the world’s best fossil sites."--New Scientist
"There is a good balance between illustrations and critical, informative text... highly recommended."
"It deserves to be a cornerstone text in undergraduate teaching... buy this book."
--The Systematist
"... it is much more than a pictorial guide to fossils, yet really does have the ‘wow look at that’ factor."--Palaeontological Newsletter

Table of Contents


1. Ediacara
2. Burgess Shale
3. Chengjiang
4. Soom Shale
5. Herefordshire Nodules
6. Hunsruck Slate
7. Rhynie Chert
8. Mazon Creek
9. Karoo
10. Grès à Voltzia
11. Holzmaden Shale
12. Morrison Formation
13. Solnhofen Limestone
14. Jehol Group
15. El Montsec and Las Hoyas
16. Santana and Crato Formations
17. Grube Messel
18. White River Group
19. Baltic Amber
20. Rancho La Brea

Appendix 1 - Further reading
Appendix 2 - Museums and site visits