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. This volume 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 the papers 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.
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