Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Smithsonian's "The Tree" Fossil

This fossil has to be one of the largest types found in Kentucky (excluding the Paleozoic coral/sponge/bryozoan reef colonies).  The plant fossil section of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History has a display of a Callixylon tree trunk fossil dated to 348 million years old (Late Devonian Period).  It was found in the New Albany Shale of Kentucky.  The tree did not grow in Kentucky though but probably floated in from the New York or Pennsylvania area then sank into the muck.

As the following pictures show this fossil protrudes into the floor and extends through the ceiling.  The display notes the trees reached heights of 30 meters (100 ft).  Modern conifers and cycads descend from this ancient progymnosperm plant fossil.


soliussymbiosus said...

I'll snap a photo of a lycopsid trunk on the University of Kentucky campus that is about a meter in diameter, in a couple of days.

David Orr said...

Love this one! I need to get myself to the Smithsonian.