Visions of a Vanished World


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The Extraordinary Fossils of the Hunsrück Slate

Gabriele Kühl, Christoph Bartels, Derek E. G. Briggs, and Jes Rust; Foreword by Richard Fortey

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A spectacular collectible volume, with masterful photographs and expert commentary on some of the world's most striking fossils

About four hundred million years ago earthquake activity and possibly major storms caused sudden movements of large quantities of muddy sediment along the seafloor. Animal communities in the path of these sediment-laden flows were instantly engulfed, the inhabitants "frozen" in the last moment of their lives. Amazingly, many of the creatures lost in this ancient catastrophe were almost perfectly preserved through the eons, fossilized in a thick series of muds now known as the Hunsrück Slate west of the Rhine Valley in western Germany. Excavations there have yielded the most diverse and surpassingly beautiful collection of marine fossils of the Devonian period ever discovered.

This book pays tribute to the exquisite fossils of the Hunsrück Slate. Large full-color photographic plates display fossil sponges, brachiopods, clams, starfish, sea lilies, trilobites, worms, sea spiders, sea stars, crustaceans, corals, and many other species. An accessible commentary recounts the discovery of the fossils and explains how the slate was formed, how the animals are preserved, the significance of the fossils, and the controversies that surround them. A special presentation in every way, this book makes an exceptional contribution to the fascinating history of life on Earth.

Gabriele Kühl is a paleontologist at the Steinmann Institute, University of Bonn, Germany. Christoph Bartels is head of the Mining History Research Department of the German Mining Museum, Bochum, Germany. Derek Briggs is G. Evelyn Hutchinson Professor of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, and director of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. Jes Rust is professor at the Steinmann Institute, University of Bonn, Germany.

"With this book we may take a kind of mental bathyscaphe down to the deeps of the Paleozoic Era, probing the sea floor like a marine biologist gifted with the chance to transcend time and space. It is a world well worth exploring."—from the Foreword by Richard Fortey

"The jewels in the crown of paleontology are those deposits that preserve soft-bodied animals. The beautiful fossils of the Hunsrück Slate, illustrated here, provide a remarkably complete picture of life in the Devonian seas 400 million years ago."—Derek J. Siveter, Oxford University

“This book, written in accessible language by the scientists actively working on the famous Devonian Hunsrück Slate of Germany, conveys the latest ideas on the fossils....the attractive color photographs jump right off the page."—Paul Selden, University of Kansas and author of Evolution of Fossil Ecosystems

"Beautifully illustrated, this book brings to life the exquisite fossils of the Hunsrück Slate, and provides an engaging introduction to life in the oceans of the middle Paleozoic."—Douglas Erwin, co-author of The Cambrian Explosion: The Construction of Animal Biodiversity

"A richly detailed introduction to this vanished world . . . The exquisite fossils of the Hunsruck Slate are most beautifully illustrated in large full-color photographs . . . Highly recommended."—Choice

Honorable Mention, Photography/Art category at the 2013 New York Book Festival sponsored by JM Northern Media LLC.
ISBN: 9780300184600
Publication Date: December 11, 2012
128 pages, 9 3/4 x 11 5/8
127 color illlus.