image warren j c_fossil impressions_1854_frontispiece
Image number: RS.11856
Credit: ©The Royal Society

Fossil impressions




George M Silsbee (d.1866, American), Photographer

Object type




height (print): 199mm
width (print): 203mm


Earth Sciences
   > Palaeontology
      > Fossils

Content object

   > fossil


Study of a geological specimen, a slab of grey sandstone from Greenfield, Connecticut, USA. The rock exhibits various trace fossils, including tracks identified by the author as being of sea-turtles (Chelonii), birds and other creatures.

Frontispiece plate from the book Remarks on some fossil impressions in the sandstone rocks of Connecticut River by John C Warren (Ticknor and Fields, Boston, 1854).

The volume is the first American scientific book to be illustrated with a photograph and was an early contribution to the study of paleoichnology.

The accompanying description of the plate states that: ‘We are indebted to Photography for enabling us to represent the remarkable slab from Greenfield, and its numerous objects…This slab is four feet seven and one-half inches in one direction, and four feet one inch transversely to this; in thickness it measures about an inch…Every part of it is full of interest, and presents a field for protracted observation. The surface represented in the plate may, by the aid of a magnifier, be studied without the presence of the stone itself; for the photographic art displays the most minute objects without alteration or omission’.

John Collins Warren (1778-1856) American surgeon and paleontologist, practiced in Boston, Massachusetts. He collaborated with the daguerreotypist Josiah Johnson Hawes (1808–1901) in using early photography to capture surgical operations.

Associated place

<The World>
   > North America
      > United States