A frequently asked question in relation to ancient cephalopods is which books can be recommended to learn about these enigmatic animals? One of the main problems with fossil cephalopods is that there is little published inbetween the extremes of attractive illustrations in coffee-table type books and technical scientific papers that are only accessible via university libraries and require at least a graduate-level scientific knowledge to understand. I thought it might be a nice idea to try and list a few recommended publications that fall inbetween the two extremes for the avid fan of ancient cephs to try and seek out. To kick off, here are three recommendations. Please feel free to chime in with any other related recommended reading (preferably not dinosaurs though, we'll be here forever...). ___________________________________________________________________ Ammonites Neale Monks and Philip Palmer, The Natural history Museum, London (2002) A must have for ammonite fans. This inexpensive paperback contains just over 150 pages of detailed discussion of ammonite paleobiology, form, function and classification. It includes discussions on the origin of the ammonoids and discusses theories about their extinction. This book is aimed at the interested general reader and requires no detailed knowledge of biology to understand. There is a great deal to interest the more advanced reader too, with detailed descriptions of the ammonite suborders. Contains a great many black and white photographs and diagrams. Although it is not particularly useful for finds identification, it is highly recommended. Invertebrate Palaeontology and Evolution (4th ed.) ENK Clarkson, Blackwell Science, (1998) Standard text book and essential reading to all those studying ancient marine invertebrates to degree level. An excellent book running to just over 450 pages, it covers the biology of all major marine invertebrate groups in the fossil record including sponges, cnidarians, bryozoans, brachiopods, molluscs, echinoderms, graptolites and arthropods. There are separate sections covering general principles, preservation in the fossil record, extinction events, and exceptional faunas amongst others. Twenty six pages are dedicated to cephalopods with particular emphasis on nautiloids and ammonoids. There are very detailed and useful descriptions of anatomy and discussion of theories concerning the biology of these animals, copiously illustrated in black and white line drawings. However, the book lacks any detailed analysis of non-belemnoid coleoid cephalopods, teuthids and octopuses are dealt with in just a couple of paragraphs, though given the rarity of these fossils this is perhaps not surprising. Hopefully this section will be expanded upon in future editions. Again recommended, but more so for students than the casual reader. PaleoBase (Macrofossils pt.2.0) CD-Rom Norman MacLeod, Blackwell Publishing (2003). This is part two of a three part CD-Rom database covering all major fossil invertebrate groups. Part one covers arthropods, brachiopods, bryozoa, trace fossils and graptolites. Part two covers molluscs and problematica, leaving part three to cover echinoderms, sponges and cnidaria. Each part can be bought separately. Together they make an extremely comprehensive database with detailed descriptions of over a thousand fossils, each fossil listed with its chronological range, taxonomy, photographs and biological description. There is almost no general discussion contained in the database records, it consists almost purely of taxonomic details and classification of individual fossil records. Part Two covers molluscs, including the cephalopods. There are records of a total of 137 major fossil cephalopods including 82 ammonoids and 24 nautiloids. For students and teachers this makes an excellent resource with some stunning photographs. Again, recommended, but mainly for students and serious fossil collectors, not so much for those with a casual interest. This database will run on most computers, requiring 12mb RAM. It will run on Windows 95, 98, NT and XP.