Evolutionary biologists have long been concerned by the incompleteness of the fossil record. Although our knowledge of the diversity of life in 'deep time' has improved, many lineages of extant animals and plants still have only sparse fossil documentation. Even groups with 'hard parts' that render them suitable for fossilization often only have a limited record. Thus, although the fossil record is viewed as critical to the reconstruction of the evolutionary history of life, many biologists question its utility. Fortunately discoveries of occurrences of exceptionally preserved fossils, known as conservation Lagerstätten (Konservat-Lagerstätten), shed much light on the past diversity of life.
Terrestrial Conservation Lagerstätten reviews selected conservation Lagerstätten for terrestrial animals and plants throughout the Phanerozoic worldwide and includes sites in Asia, Europe and North and South America. Together Terrestrial Conservation Lagerstättens demonstrate the enormous progress made in recent years both in documenting the biodiversity of such extraordinary fossil deposits and also in elucidating the geological conditions for and biogeochemical processes behind the formation of conservation Lagerstätten. Each contribution has been written by eminent palaeontologists who have enlisted additional expertise to make each chapter as comprehensive as possible.
Introduction to conservation Lagerstätten
1. Rhynie Chert (Early Devonian, Scotland)
2. East Kirkton (Early Carboniferous, Scotland)
3. Madygen Formation (Middle or Late Triassic, Kyrgyzstan)
4. Solite Quarry (Late Triassic, USA)
5. Daohugou Biota (Late Jurassic, Inner Mongolia)
6. Jehol Group (Early Cretaceous, China)
7. Santana Formation (Early Cretaceous, Brazil)
8. Green River (Eocene, USA)
9. Messel (Eocene, Germany)
10. Amber (Mesozoic-Cenozoic, worldwide)
Nicholas C. Fraser is at the National Museum of Scotland. Hans-Dieter Sues is at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.