Easily overlooked due to its extremely limited exposure and geographic extent, the Milwaukee Formation seldom comes up in discussions of Devonian paleontology or geology. In spite of this, it contains one of the most rich and diverse Devonian biotas in North America. Fossils of the Milwaukee Formation: A Diverse Middle Devonian Biota from Wisconsin, USA re-examines this virtually forgotten occurrence, compiling all known species, as well as major taxa not previously recorded from this formation, and presents several significant new interpretations. The book covers roughly 250 species from four kingdoms and includes nearly 600 photographs of foraminifers, echinoderms, graptolites, conodonts, a wide range of fishes, a multitude of shelly and encrusting animals, trace fossils, and even terrestrial organisms that washed into the sea. Fossils previously thought to be of forms of brown algae are shown to be, in one case, bark from trees of some of Earth’s first forests, and in another case, a type of terrestrial fungus that may have reached the height of a two-story building.
The authors also use the Milwaukee Formation’s fossils to help illustrate many geological processes and topics in biological science, pointing out that some of those fossils even helped support the theory of punctuated equilibria. The book includes sections on stratigraphy, fossil collecting in the Milwaukee Formation, preparation methods, major collections, and a detailed section on Milwaukee’s cement industry, which was crucial in accumulating the majority of the Milwaukee Formation’s fossils. The book particularly stresses the need for modern analysis of these fossils for their value in what else it may teach us about this biota and what that may add to the body of geologic knowledge. It thus serves as a call to action for researchers by pointing out this need and stating where the major collections are located. A comprehensive glossary is provided for technical terms that are not defined in the text.
Fossils of the Milwaukee Formation will be of interest to fossil enthusiasts, students, professional paleontologists, biologists, academics, as well as historians.