Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

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Carboniferous

Big Cedar Ridge, Wyoming: a 73 million-year-old preserved landscape

 

 

Palmetto Thicket

Fossil sites near the north end of Big Cedar Ridge were dominated by the palmetto Sabalites sp., the fern F2 (family unknown), and at a few sites by a relative of the living Norfolk Island pine, Araucarites sp. A fern called Sectilopteris sp. (F1) was also moderately common. The vegetation may have been something like the palmetto swamps that grow in the southern US today. The soil underneath these palmettos was moderately organic rich, but not peaty, like the soils in the fern wetland to the south.

Reconstruction of palmetto-dominated vegetation at Big Cedar Ridge. In addition to the palmetto, Sabalites sp., this painting shows the most abundant fern found in this area, F2 (family unknown). (Mary Parrish reconstruction)

 

Fossils used in the reconstruction:

The palmetto Sabalites sp. (Arecaceae).

The fern F2 (family not known).

The fern Sectilopteris sp. (F1 - family not known).

The conifer Araucarites sp. (CO7 – Araucariaceae).

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