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New Book Combines Palaeontology and Entomology

Illustration by Richard Bizley.

A new book called Fossil Insects, by Dr. David Penney and James E. Jepson, details the incredible preservation and diversity of fossilized insects from around the world, setting the scene for what these remarkable fossils can tell us about the ancient and modern worlds, and even the future of our planet.

Using pioneering scientific methods and state-of-the-art technology, Dr. Penney, from the University of Manchester, has drawn on his knowledge of both entomology and palaeontology to discover some astonishing things about these fossilized creatures during the course of his research.

“Insects are the most diverse group of creatures on the planet today,” he said. “Many of them were around even before the time of the dinosaurs. Bringing together entomology and palaeontology through the study of insect fossils has great potential for revolutionizing what we know about both subjects.”

The ancient insects have been brought to life in the book through illustrations that for the first time depict long vanished arthropods living among the flora and fauna during the age of the dinosaurs. The artist, Richard Bizley, has created seven reconstructions of each of the major periods from the Devonian to the Tertiary.

To make the animals in his paintings look realistic, he created models using scientific drawings and pictures of fossils. He then photographed them to see how the light behaves.

“When reconstructing fossil insect species, special attention needs to be paid to important diagnostic features, such as the wing venation patterns and the relative lengths of appendage segments,” Bizley said. “The fact that many fossil insect species are known only from isolated wings posed additional problems. This is where the collaboration with experts became very useful and I worked closely with Dr. Penney to produce an accurate reconstruction based on the comparative study of both fossil and living insects.”

“This is the first book to merge these two disciplines in an accessible way, using plain and simple language,” said Dr. Penney. “It is a book for anyone with a passion for palaeontology and/or entomology.”

The book can be purchased from the Siri Scientific Press & Online Bookshop.

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