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Good, Cheap Books For Beginners


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Although the internet has a lot of good information on it and is great for doing searches, books are still a better resource for trying to break into an area of study. The internet is mostly bits and pieces of information that is not presented in a coherent form.

Here are a few books that can get a person started and if you buy the used issues, they probably can all three be had for less than $20.

"Field Guide to North American Fossils" by National Audubon Society

"Simon and Schuster's Guide to Fossils"

"A Guide to Fossils" by Helmut Mayr

One thing that these books will teach you is a better understanding of how classification is done and how to spot diagnostic features that can help you classify your finds. You will learn about "the tree of life" and how these fossils attach to it. These books mostly just focus on classification down to the family level of classification, and then when it brings you that claose, you are ready to start googling to boil it down to the genus and maybe even the species, by using the broader scope of the internet. These books are very general and broad on purpose. There is no way to present the whole world of fossils in one volume, but the books become a spring board for better understanding of the science of paleontology and classification.

Anybody else got suggestions a good general beginner's books?

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The Fossil Book, by Rich, Rich, Fenton, and Fenton.

And : Fossils, (Golden Field Guide) was my first fossil book.

Also this one is usually recommended by people on the Forum:

Discovering Fossils, by Garcia, Miller, and Burns.

Outdated info in the first two, but, all in all, good basic and inexpensive guides and informative core reading.


Edited by Fossildude19


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"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks."

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Oh yeah, "The Fossil Book" is a very good presentation of the whole field of paleontology. The Fossil Book is less about identification and more about the tree of life itself. It is a thick volume and discusses many topics of ancient life on earth. I strongly recommend that.

The three I mention above are more pictorial identification guides, but the really valuable thing is that they all give diagnosic features of phylum, class, order, family, and that helps people understand that there is actually a method to this madness of assigning latin names to everything. The full classification describes the tree trunk, branches, twigs, and leaves of the tree.

Edited by tmaier
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North America Through Time, by Lynne Clos, ia an excellent and accessible overview of the continent's fossiliferous geology from the Pre-Cambrian to present. There is nothing else quite like it!


"There has been an alarming increase in the number of things I know nothing about." - Ashleigh Ellwood Brilliant

“Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.” - Thomas Henry Huxley

>Paleontology is an evolving science.

>May your wonders never cease!

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