An Illustrated Guide to Fossil Collecting 3rd Edition by Richard L Casanova & Ronald Paul Ratkevich

Format: Softcover, 240 pages

Publisher: Naturegraph Publishers, 2006

ISBN: 0879611138

This is the third revised edition of this fossil collecting guide for amateurs. Dr. Casanova is a well known paleontologist, author, and editor, and Ronald Ratkevich, author of several fossil books, is a frequent contributor to the Lapidary Journal. In simple and readable language the authors introduce the reader to the romance of fossil collecting from the earliest records to the present. A concise list of various kinds of fossil preservation is given. Then the classification of fossils is described, starting with animal invertebrates, followed by vertebrates and then the division of plants. A condensed history of life on earth puts the various fossils in the correct time frames.

The beginning collector is told how to prepare for fossil hunting field trips, where to get information, and what to take along. Actual collecting techniques are described. These include specimens as easy as picking up fossil shells which have weathered from the matrix to processes as difficult as making a plaster jacket for a crumbling fossil bone. Considerable attention is given to the importance of cataloging a collection and how to do it. There are also hints on preparation and display. Safety precautions are given for techniques such as acid treatment. A useful list of museums with fossil exhibits is included. Fossil exhibits at state and national parks is a worthwhile addition. Included also are geological survey addresses, a list of paleontological societies, and a glossary.

A major chapter is on the fossil collecting localities of North America. Some locations are given in detail, but for the most part only major localities are given, and many of them are general rather than specific. Some states may be covered more completely than others. For example there is much more information about fossils in Maryland than in South Dakota, a major fossil locality. The book has a well done glossary and a recommended reading list. It is illustrated with numerous charts and drawings, as well as black and white photographs. Most of the illustrations are clear and well selected. A lot of information is squeezed into a small space. The book will convince most collectors that fossil collecting is fun and not too difficult, and that it would pay them to learn at least the basics, no matter what their field of special interest may be.


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