The Basic Library of Students of the Cincinnatian

This is the first of what I hope will be a series of articles reviewing various books on paleontological topics. In this one, I want to cover what I consider to be a good, basic library. In future editions, I will discuss both new and old books covering dinosaurs, invertebrate paleontology, extinction, and paleobiology.

Few of us in the Dry Dredgers have had the luxury of a formal education in paleontology or geology. This makes it somewhat more difficult for us to comprehend or even -- at times -- get the drift of some of the more technical talks at our meetings. My proposed solution to this dilemma: Read. Always read something a little over your head; in no time at all you'll find that the book you understand today was one you couldn't comprehend two years before.

My recommendations for a basic library include:

Davis, Richard A., ed.
Cincinnati Fossils
Cincinnati: Cincinnati Museum of Natural History, 1992.

Still the best single volume covering the fossils from this area. Remember the subtitle, "An Elementary Guide." As you collect more, you will soon find that you need to reach beyond this book to identify specimens. You may also find that, as much as you would like to, you can't really identify everything from a single photograph.

Moore, Raymond C., Lalicker, Cecil G., and Fischer, Alfred G.
Invertebrate Fossils
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1952.

This book remains a good choice for amateurs in that it is much more readable than some of the newer texts. Invertebrate Fossils covers all of the major invertebrate groups and will help you in learning the inevitable technical terms necessary to understanding professional publications. Available in the UC Geology Library or on the used book market for up to $35.

Shrock, Robert R. and Twenhofel, William H.
Principles of Invertebrate Paleontology
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1953.

A good alternative to Moore, Lalicker and Fischer. This is pretty much along the same lines, but in my mind a bit less readable. Out-of-print, but sometimes available used for up to $30.

Shimer, Hervey W. and Schrock, Robert R.
Index Fossils of North America
New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1944.

This book remains popular and is still in print. It's available now for around $90 or used for less than half of that. This will be the first book that will help you in identifications; it has thousands of plates and covers all invertebrate groups. Please note that, while you may buy a brand new edition of this book, it will have the identical information as the original version; while it has been reprinted, it has not been updated.

Buchsbaum, Ralph.
Animals Without Backbones
Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1938.
(Newer editions into the 1950s.)

If you really want to know more about the animals whose remains we collect, you need to know more about their living relatives. This book is a classic text on living invertebrates. Available used for $5 to $15.

Newberry, J.S., State Geologist.
Report of the Geological Survey of Ohio, Volume I, Part II, Paleontology.
Columbus: Nevins & Meyers, 1873.


Newberry, J.S., State Geologist.
Report of the Geological Survey of Ohio, Volume II, Part II, Paleontology.
Columbus: Nevins & Meyers, 1875.

Obviously out-of-print but available on occasion; expect to pay $100 for the set in good condition. These books are illustrated by beautiful engravings. The two volumes cover Cincinnati fossils except pelecypods (they're in Volume VII). The text contains many of the original descriptions of our local fossils and, as such, these books are more on the technical side.

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