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A reprint of a classical work in the Cambridge Library Collection.
Published in 1931 to complement Seward's magisterial four-volume textbook Fossil Plants, this book is a digest of his earlier detailed study, written for a non-specialist audience as an introduction to the field of palaeobotany. Seward begins by describing the basics of geology and palaeobotany in order to explain how the interpretation of fossilised plant remains found in rocks can shed light on the natural world of prehistoric times.
He then covers geological periods in chronological sequence, from the Pre-Cambrian to the Quaternary. Throughout, he emphasises the fragmentary nature of the evidence and the difficulties in extrapolating from the surviving fossil record, but he also explains the great discoveries made in the field and how they came about. The accompanying drawings give an impression of the likely combinations of plants found in each period, allowing the reader to visualise the different landscapes evoked in Seward's engaging prose.
List of illustrations
2. The crust of the earth
3. Geological cycles
4. Other aspects of geological history
5. Preservation of plants as fossils
6. A classification of plants
7. The earliest records of plant-life: the Pre-Cambrian era
8. The earlier Palaeozoic seas. The Cambrian, Ordovician and Silurian periods
9. A land vegetation: the Devonian period
10. The Carboniferous and Permian periods
11. The earlier carboniferous vegetation
12. The later carboniferous vegetation, with some account of Permian floras
13. The first phase of the Mesozoic era: the Triassic period
14. The Jurassic period
15. The Cretaceous period
16. The Cainozoic era: the Tertiary period
17. The Quaternary period