Nautilids and Ammonites Worldwide: The World of Cephalopods and Their Reflection in Philately

Article excerpt

Nautilids and Ammonites Worldwide: The World of Cephalopods and Their Reflection in Philately. By Hans Ulrich Ernst and Christian Klug. 2011. Verlag Dr Friedrich Pfeil, Munich, Germany. (ISBN 9783899371291). Bilingual (German and English). 224 pp. Hardcover. $38.50.

In the series Reflection in Philately, Friedrich Pfeil (Germany) has published the second issue on Nautilids and Ammonites eight years after the first on Trilobites by Hans Ulrich Ernst, an avid collector of paleontological stamps and the common author in both issues. Dr. Christian Klug, the coauthor of this book, is a paleontological expert from the Paleontological Institute and Museum, University of Zurich.

Both fossils and stamps are valued museum objects. The first record natural history, while the second record national history and resources. Both have the potential to record science history and, thus, play significant roles in science communication. A postage stamp can communicate a message, disseminate science information, and propagate science culture to the masses. Science-based stamps help to increase the potential of postage stamps beyond simple "collection materials" to valued sources of information. A postage stamp is a unique medium for science communication and can be a good teaching and learning aid. Utilizating postage stamp imagery as storyteller, the authors complement one another and present an appealing compilation of fossil stamps and postmarks scattered throughout the book.

The invertebrate cephalopod mollusks are significant ocean dwellers, having chambered shells, external in Nautilus and internal in Sepia-like animals. Ammonites are intriguing because of their inexhaustible variety of shapes, and also because they constructed coiled conches. The included stamps reflect tremendous diversity in variably shaped species and the morphological spectrum of ammonites.

This book is structured in two sections. The 19-page introduction familiarizes readers with topics including cephalopod descriptions. The first section illustrates the differences between nautilids and ammonoids in respect to shell shape, ornamentation, body chamber, phragmocone, septa, the siphuncle and buoyancy regulation, apparatus, radula and diet, arms and tentacles, eyes, development, mode of life, reproduction, dimorphism, stability, swimming, pathology and teratology, taphonomy, biostratigraphy, mass extinctions, and more. The second section, in four parts, presents philatelic endeavors.

The book has related philatelic and paleontological references listed in the bibliography, along with a 26-page index for the illustrations. It has a double-column layout, with the left-hand column in German and the right-hand column in English. This results in shorter line length for easier reading but is awkward because many of the illustrations break the text columns. The quality of the illustrations is satisfactory, but special plates of illustrations on separate pages would have been better. In the present form, the book has 25 pages fully devoted to philatelic illustrations without any additional text.

This handy document is an outcome of innovative practices in communicating science effectively through use of postage stamps as an information source. The authors have tracked down an amazing number of cephalopods in cancels and meter frankings and have done praiseworthy work in identifying and describing the species. Their book presents a wealth of information on nautilids and ammonites, giving the anatomic specifications of the illustrated objects backed with the philatelic information. The book has 522 color figures, with 79 pages carrying stamp-related images. …

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