On the occasion of the Cincinnati Fossil Festival, I'm going to reprint the following column. I hope you -- as one of our resident "amateur experts," will be getting lots of questions about fossil collecting this month. This column is an updated version of the first one I did in 1993 which offered my recommendations for a basic library. I have had many new members ask me what the best books are to learn about and identify the fossils from the area. This consequently allows me to update my earlier list.


At the top of the list for Cincinnatian fossils is Cincinnati Fossils, edited by Richard A. Davis, 1992. This is available to members at club meetings and at the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History. No other single source of information exists which covers the local geology and paleontology in a fashion easily understandable for the amateur. Beyond this valuable book, you are into technical professional literature.

Report of the Geological Survey of Ohio, Volume I, Part II and Volume II, Part II: Paleontology and Volume VII: Geology cover the bulk of the Cincinnatian fossils. These books were published in the late 1800s and contain some of the original technical descriptions of our local fossils. Diligent and persistent search of local used book stores will generally uncover these treasures.


Invertebrate Fossils, Moore, Lalicker, and Fischer, 1952, is a favorite of mine which I recommend to anyone who will listen. The continued beauty of this book to me is that it is easy to read and understand. Technical terms and anatomical features are well defined which makes it an invaluable springboard for progress into more technical publications.

Fossil Invertebrates, Boardman, Cheetham, and Rowell, 1987, is well worth the $50.00 price tag. This 700 page book is well illustrated with text and illustrations closely linked for better understanding. This is more technical than the previous book and being 35 years newer has more thorough and up to date information.

Invertebrate Paleontology and Evolution, E. N. K. Clarkson, 1979, was reviewed last year. Although a European text with illustrations of mostly European fossils, I still find this to be a very good book.

Earth and Life Through Time, Steven Stanley, 1986, was also reviewed last year and differs from the other books in that it incorporates physical geology along with historical geology. Since this book covers a broader range of subjects, you won't find it to be very detailed about specific fossils. I like it because it does an excellent job of linking the physical changes in the earth over time with the changes in life forms.

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