Fossil Friday – Carboniferous plant donation

 

During my trip to the Midwest last month I made a brief stop at Earlham College in Indiana, where I have a lot of longtime friends and where I’ve done some work in the past with their excellent campus museum, the Joseph Moore Museum. While at Earlham I picked up a collection of fossil plants that were donated to the Western Science Center by the Earlham Geology Department.

The majority of these plants are from a world famous locality in Illinois called Mazon Creek, which includes sediments from the Late Carboniferous Period (approximately 300 million years old). Through a combination of rapid burial and unusual geochemical conditions organic material at Mazon Creek was exquisitely preserved in hard concretions.  The vast majority of the Mazon Creek fossils are plants (and the collections donated to WSC only includes plants) but many animals have also been recovered, including marine invertebrates (even soft-bodied jellyfish), insects and other terrestrial invertebrates, and occasional fish and sharks.

It will take us awhile to sort and identify all the specimens in the donation, which included several boxes of material. The WSC previously had almost no Carboniferous fossils in our collection, so this is a very nice addition. I’d like to thank Andrew Moore and Cynthia Fadem of the Earlham College Geology Department for arranging for the donation of this wonderful collection.

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