Conifers: Sphenolepis (SFEN-oh-LEP-iss), Athrotaxopsis (ATH-row-tax-OP-siss) and "Sequoia" ambigua (seh-QUOY-ah am-BIG-you-ah)

 Painting of conifer foliage with small cones at the branch tips.

Click to zoom.

The forests in this area were dominated by tall conifer trees known from many fossil tree trunks and foliage. Two of the most common trees, Sphenolepis and Athrotaxopsis, were related to modern cypresses, which can survive frequent flooding and even grow in standing water.

Another conifer, "Sequoia" ambigua, had foliage and cones that are similar to those of the modern redwood, prompting 19th century scientists to classify it as a Sequoia. We now know that it was not a true Sequoia, although it may be a relative.




A fossil of the long slender foliage of Sphenelopsis, a conifer tree

Sphenolepis foliage. Click to zoom.

A fossil of Athrotaxopsis, a conifer tree with highly branched foliage.

Athrotaxopsis foliage. Click to zoom.

Two fossilized conifer cones, each about the size of modern hemlock cones (one to two centimeters long)

Fossil conifer cones. Click to zoom.

The foliage and cones of this fossil resemble those of a Sequoia.

Sequoia ambigua foliage and cones. Click to zoom.

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