Happy Fossil Friday! ††††††††††††††††
Friday November 20, 2020†††
Instructor: Arthur Reed, P.G.
Hard parts like bones and shells preserve more easily than softer tissue. Less durable things like plants, insects and feathers fossilize by carbonization. This process begins after burial as building pressure forces volatile elements like hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen out of the original material. The leftover carbon faithfully mimics the details of the original soft parts.
This is a fossil leaf of Plagianthus betulinus (or Ribbonwood). It's 1.6 million years old and was collected from the Waipaoa Valley in New Zealand.† Ribbonwood is still found in forests and gardens today. It is one of New Zealandís few native deciduous trees, shedding its leaves annually in the autumn and winter.
Fossil plants are important indicators of past environmental conditions. They tell us about things like temperature and humidity millions of years ago. Because of this, we can use them to infer how the climate has changed over time, and how our biodiversity might change under differing climate change scenarios.
NOTE: Corrections are always appreciated!