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The Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event

22 February 2023

This weighty tome describes and elucidates the importance of the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event, which occurred approximately 40 million years after the Cambrian Explosion. It brings to life the major changes that took place to the ecosystems and the replacement, albeit gradual, of a very distinctive Cambrian fauna. The book concentrates on a small area of the Anti-Atlas Mountains in Morocco, as such, it can only be seen as giving an overview of important biota and its importance in understanding the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event. 

As always with publications from this publisher, it is a multi-author book that has been edited by experts in the field. The papers presented are an excellent mixture of the geology of the area, detailed taxonomic overviews of the biota, and (for me, the most important chapter of all) the fossil trade from the area. The latter is something that needs to be discussed and may, at times, make for uncomfortable reading. However, it is important that we help countries preserve their rich geological heritage and find ways of supporting the populations in these areas. It is vital that we all, as professionals, support the development of workable legal frameworks for the advancement of our understanding. Indeed, seeing the excellent preparation of some of the fossils is a tribute to the artisan workers who specialise in this area. 

The quality of the papers is superb. The diagrams and photographs are a standout feature of the book; their clarity really brings the text to life and it is commendable to see the use of colour, which serves to enhance the experience for the reader. It discusses a wide variety of taxa, so one can follow one’s own interests, for instance, the trilobites of the region, but also understand a certain taxa’s place in the wider palaeodiversity of the area. Following on from the Cambrian Explosion, this is a valuable time for the biodiversification of our planet and it deserves a wide readership. 

This book is an invaluable asset and contribution to our understanding of the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event. It acts as a superb memorial to the work of Jacques Destombes, who provided the first detailed biostratigraphic framework for the Lower Ordovician of the Anti-Atlas. This is an excellent book and I cannot recommend it highly enough. 

Reviewed by Gordon Neighbour 



BY: A.W. Hunter, J.J. Alvaro, B. Lefebvre, P. Van Roy, & S. Zamora (eds.) (2022). Geological Society of London Special Publication No 485. 272 pp. (hbk) 

ISBN: 9781786204073 

PRICE: £160.00 (£80.00 for Fellows, £96.00 for other societies) www.geolsoc.org.uk