Evolution of Fossil Ecosystems

2nd Edition

Authors: Paul Selden John Nudds
Paperback ISBN: 9780124046290
eBook ISBN: 9780124046375
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 5th September 2012
Page Count: 288
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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.

Key Features

  • Covers several sites that are not listed in other Lagerstatten books making this the most comprehensive book on the topic;
  • Beautifully illustrated throughout with more than 450 color photographs and diagrams;
  • Provides value to a wide range of students and professionals in palaeontology and related sciences.


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.

Table of Contents



Photography and Illustrations




Chapter One. Ediacara

Background: First Life on Earth

History of Discovery of the Ediacara Biota

Stratigraphic Setting and Taphonomy of the Ediacara Biota

Description of the Ediacara Biota

Palaeoecology of the Ediacara Biota

Comparison of Ediacara With Other Late Precambrian Biotas

Museums and Site Visits

Chapter Two. The Burgess Shale

Background: The Cambrian Explosion

History of Discovery of the Burgess Shale

Stratigraphic Setting and Taphonomy of the Burgess Shale

Description of the Burgess Shale Biota

Palaeoecology of the Burgess Shale Biota

Comparison of the Burgess Shale With Other Cambrian Biotas

Museums and Site Visits

Chapter Three. Chengjiang

Background: Burgess Shale-Type Biotas in the Early Cambrian

History of Discovery of the Chengjiang Biota

Stratigraphic Setting and Taphonomy of the Chengjiang Biota

Description of the Chengjiang Biota

Palaeoecology of the Chengjiang Biota

Comparison of Chengjiang With Other Lower Cambrian Biotas

Museums and Site Visits

Chapter Four. The Soom Shale

Background: Early Palaeozoic Lagerstätten

History of Discovery of the Soom Shale

Stratigraphic Setting and Taphonomy of the Soom Shale

Description of the Soom Shale Biota

Palaeoecology of the Soom Shale Biota

Comparison of the Soom Shale with Other Lower Palaeozoic Biotas

Museums and Site Visits

Chapter Five. The Herefordshire Nodules

Background: The Silurian Period

History of Discovery of the Herefordshire Nodules

Stratigraphic Setting and Taphonomy of the Herefordshire Nodules

Description of the Herefordshire Nodules Biota



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Academic Press
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About the Author

Paul Selden

Affiliations and Expertise

Distinguished Professor of Invertebrate Palaeontology and Director, Palaeontological Institute, University of Kansas, USA

John Nudds

Affiliations and Expertise

Senior Lecturer in Palaeontology, School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Studies, University of Manchester, UK


"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