The Observer’s Book of Geology

The Observers Books is a great series of pocket books about every subject imaginable, published between 1937 and 2003 when the last of the one hundred titles, Wayside and Woodland was issued. I had several when I was a child including the book on Geology. Now, many years later, I’m back being interested in geology again and have joined a group and started a course to learn more. The other day, I bought The Observer’s Book of Geology again, my own having vanished many years ago.

Geology in its widest sense is concerned with everything in this world. Anybody who is interested in anything is therefore a geologist….

…so writes I.O. Evans in his introduction. My edition, once the possession of Geraldine H. Hackett, was first published in 1949, the tenth book in the series, but my copy was bought by or given to Geraldine in 1962. Although much of the geology explained in the book is still the same, some of the interpretations of what was observed seems wildly out of date and incorrect.

I am particularly interested in early humans, so had a quick look at the section on Fossil Man and his Fore-runners. The section starts with the statement that human beings first appeared during the Great Ice Age – I can’t find out what date the author means  by this but we now know that Homo sapiens have been around for about 200,000 years, so I think the book is somewhat adrift on that – new knowledge has overtaken it. Early people are described as sub-men a description we would definitely eschew now.

The little book describes the early flint tools – eoliths, a word which has a lovely literal meaning of ‘dawn stones’ – as crudely shaped. and ‘ he creature which made them is thought to have been a very primitive type of sub-human’ – an archaeologist or geologist would never, never use this term now. Excavations have now found wonderful examples of Neanderthal and other early cousins of our species, but in 1949 these upright, intelligent beings were falsely described: its head was shaped differently from humans, with receding forehead and jaws, and with great brow-ridges over the eyes; its teeth and thumbs were also misshapen; its back so bent that it could not walk upright and it may have been covered with a coat of bristly fur…. such creatures, grotesquely semi-human… Evidence was interpreted and imagination helped extrapolate a false picture of what these people looked like. Many of us, we now know,  have Neanderthal heritage, way back before we can imagine!



  1. david lewis

    Do you think our Big Foot or Sasquatch could be a surviving Neanderthal? I’ve often thought that. They say that red headed people have more Neanderthal genes in them.So much to learn. Such little time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois

      That is an interesting thought… there are other strange beings in remote places like the yeti – maybe there are tiny colonies of ancient beings still with us!


  2. david lewis

    Our Sasquatch have been known to throw pebbles at you and I experienced that when working in the bush as a teen. I was afraid at first but then got the feeling that the creature was curious and shy but awfully lonely. It was a sad feeling that I never forgot.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. david lewis

    They are only small pebbles and not likely to hurt you.I think it is there way of saying that I’m here and watching you. I have never heard one and just glimpsed a shadow moving. I asked an old trapper why they haven’t found the remains of a dead one and he said the carcass of a dead bear disappears after a few days due to scavengers and are rare or maybe they bury there dead. They could also be spirits as the natives believe and could change form.

    Liked by 1 person

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