Evolutionary biologists have long been concerned by the incompleteness of the fossil record. Fortunately, from time to time, discoveries of occurrences of exceptionally preserved fossils, known as conservation Lagerstätten (from the German word Lagerstätte – essentially meaning motherlode) shed much new light on the past diversity of life. A recently published book, Terrestrial Conservation Lagerstätten: Windows into the Evolution of Life on Land edited by Nick Fraser (National Museums Scotland) and Hans-Dieter Sues (Smithsonian Institution), brings together for the first time reviews of the world’s most significant lagerstätten documenting terrestrial animals and plants.
Written by international experts, the nine separate localities include two from Scotland, the famous Rhynie chert documenting the earliest-known ecosystem of terrestrial animals and plants, and East Kirkton Quarry in West Lothian. East Kirkton is famous for its diversity of amphibians as well as “Lizzie” (Westlothiana lizziae), long regarded as one of the oldest reptiles in the world.