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

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.

Science communication is maturing as an area of multidisciplinary research and practice. An increasing number of introductory texts are being published, of which Nautilids and Ammonites Worldwide: The World of Cephalopods and their Reflection in Philately is one. As a contribution to popular culture, the book focuses on imagery, representation, and public education in a simple "know about" approach.

A postage stamp has proved to be an indispensable means of making science popular, and it will continue to play this role. The future role of a postage stamp should be viewed as an increasingly popular way of taking science to the masses as this book does. It would help to stimulate the use of stamps for special study, not only in paleontology, but to open a discourse that would be of value to scholars in examining philately. Recently, Ujwala Nawlakhe traced the philatelic development in the areas of library and information science and evaluated various types of philatelic organizations and philatelic literature.

This book is intended for individuals with philatelic interests or for cephalopod collectors. It gives an overview of all the stamps, postmarks, and postal stationeries issued to date. A photograph and brief description of the morphology of the cephalopods featured, together with notes on their distribution, are given to explain the philatelic material. The exact species are represented wherever possible, or substituted by a closely related species of the same genus.

Nautilids and Ammonites Worldwide contributes not only to public understanding of the science of these fascinating organisms but also aims to create interest in students and the general public about paleontology in general and nautilids and ammonites in particular. It clearly documents fossil stamps for the avid collector and, thus, is equally useful to science students and philatelists. I would recommend this book to school and college students interested in gaining knowledge about fossils and paleontology. It is a good reference on the subject for thematic philatelists and is an example of science communication with an innovative practice through philately. I personally see this second volume as a "journey from gift book to science communication."



Calver, M., Addison, K. & Annan, J. (2011). Postage stamps as teaching aids in biology. American Biology Teacher, 73, 289-29 0.

Nawlakhe, A. (2008). Review of Trilobites Worldwide: The World of Trilobites and Their Reflection in Philately, by Hans Ulrich Ernst and Frank Rudolph. American Biology Teacher, 70, 564-566.

Nawlakhe, U.A. (2012). Study of Postage Stamp as an Information Source: Origin, Evolution and Development of Philately with Library and Information Science Projections. Submitted Ph. D. dissertation under guidance of Dr. Mangala Hirwade, RTMNU, Nagpur. (Unpublished).

Anil Nawlakhe

Assistant Professor and Science


JM Patel Collage

Bhandara, India

ELIZABETH COWLES teaches sophomore-level biology, biochemistry, and entomology at Eastern Connecticut State University. She has taught at the undergraduate and graduate college levels for over 20 years. Her interests include insect toxicology, protein characterization, and astrobiology. Cowles holds degrees in biology and biochemistry from Cornell University and Michigan State University. Her address is Department of Biology, ECSU, 83 Windham St., Willimantic, CT 06226; e-mail:
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Author:Nawlakhe, Anil
Publication:The American Biology Teacher
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2013
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