Cover image for Encyclopedia of paleontology
Encyclopedia of paleontology
Singer, Ronald.
Publication Information:
Chicago : Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, [1999]

Physical Description:
2 volumes (xix, 1435 pages) : illustrations, maps ; 29 cm
General Note:
Includes a listing of paleontological journals (p. 1357-1358) and a directory of contributor and adviser addresses (p. 1427-1435).
v. 1. A-L -- v. 2. M-Z.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QE703 .E523 1999 V. 1 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ
QE703 .E523 1999 V. 2 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ

On Order



First Published in 2000. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Here is a welcome and much-needed resource for the educated layperson. There have been numerous books published over the past few years that cover the fossil record, such as dinosaurs, but nothing that covers the discipline of paleontology from evolutionary theories to environmental history to reproductive strategies. The recent discovery of a mammal the size of one's thumb has sparked renewed interest in the field, as has the ongoing debate between the creationists and the evolutionists. There are guides that help amateur scientists find the best locality to search for a specific kind of fossil but no general resource that discusses the theories behind that fossil, why it is where it is, why it became extinct, or how it evolved into a present-day, living species. The 206 contributors have excellent credentials and have written 328 articles that cover all areas of paleontology, including 79 biographies for individuals such as Jean Agassiz, Charles Darwin, and Louis Leakey. The articles are extremely well written, with line drawings, photographs, charts, and other illustrative matter, plus a list of works cited and a further reading list. To locate information about a particular species, one will need to use the comprehensive taxonomic and general indexes. Finding information about Ostracodas, for example, requires checking the taxonomic index, where the researcher would be directed to the entry Crustaceans. Many of the taxa that are listed as entries in the encyclopedia describe living species, discuss fossil species, and show how that species has evolved. The same is true when a particular anatomical feature is discussed, showing the relationships between the present and the past. The biographies are fairly comprehensive, outlining not only the paleontological connection of the individual's work but also related fields of study. For anyone who wants to approach paleontology from the thematic route, an outline is presented, providing an approach through 12 broad topics, such as "Biology and Behavior," "Morphology," and "Regional Overviews." This is an excellent work, recommended for all libraries from high school to academic. It is pleasing to the eye, well bound, authoritative, and highly readable. Although the set is somewhat expensive for smaller libraries, it should be recognized that the discipline of paleontology is not fast changing, making this set a standard reference source for many years without going out of date.

Library Journal Review

Paleontology, the study of prehistoric life through fossil remains, covers much more than just dinosaurs: paleontologists have discovered about 250,000 species of fossil plants and animals. Unique in its range, this massive work is not a catalog of fossil species, but the comprehensive overview of a field of scholarly research. The range of information presented supports editor Singer's claim that "a practicing paleontologist requires a broader knowledge base and a greater diversity of skills than perhaps any other profession." Documenting the extent of interdisciplinary knowledge (including biology and geology) necessary to this field, the nearly 300 signed, alphabetically arranged entries by over 200 experts cover subjects ranging from aardvark fossils to a biography of Chinese vertebrate paleontologist Yang Zhungjian. Each entry lists works cited and suggestions for further reading; biographical entries also list major publications. Finding aids include alphabetic and thematic lists of entries, a list of contributors, and general and taxonomic indexes. Entries tend to include broad topics such as "Teeth," "Dating Methods," and "Systematics." Related narrower topics, such as conodonts, index fossils, or cladistics, are not cross-referenced in the alphabetic list, but appropriate sections may be found by using the general index, and coverage is thorough and complete. Despite the scholarly orientation, the writing is not overly technical, making this a highly recommended source for both academic and public libraries.--Amy Brunvand, Univ. of Utah Lib., Salt Lake City (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Producing specialized encyclopedias must be labors of love, many years in the making. This excellent encyclopedia is clearly a worthwhile contribution to the literature of paleontology. The distribution of topics leans toward vertebrate paleontology and the history of paleontology (expressed as biographical entries). This imbalance (five entries about teeth versus one on angiosperms) reflects the personal touch of the editor and the near impossibility of treating a large subject uniformly. Only black-and-white photographs and line drawings are used for illustration. The bibliographies are thorough, enabling quick access to the literature. Entries are reasonably accurate and are usually written by specialists (e.g., Adolf Seilacher, "Edicarian Biota"). Faculty will continue to prefer books like Palaeobiology: A Synthesis, ed. by D.E.G. Briggs and Peter R. Crowther (1992), designed as a textbook and providing a more balanced treatment. But Singer's encyclopedia will be a valuable reference source for undergraduate, high school, or public libraries. P. K. Strother; Boston College