Carboniferous Fossil Lycopod Tree Root Section

Stigmaria Lycopod Root

Division Lycopodiophyta, Class Isoetopsida, Order Lepidodendrales

Geological Time: Pennsylvanian

Size: Fossil is ~ 10 inches long

Fossil Site: Fire Creek Formation, Dawson County, West Virginia

Code: FC113

Price: $110.00

Stigmaria is a form genus for tree roots of Carboniferous coal forest Lycopod trees such as Sigillaria and Lepidodendron. Lycopodiophyta appear in the fossil record in the Silurian in conjunction with many other vascular plants, and led to the trees that would dominate the equitorial landscape in the Mississipian and Pennsylvanian periods. North America was at the equator during the Carboniferous (290 to 359 million years ago). There were extensive, hot and swampy forests with Pteridospermatophyta (seed ferns) and huge Lycopodiophyta trees, Sigillaria and Lepidodendron, some on the order of 30 meters tall with trunks a meter or more thick. West Virginia during the Carboniferous period was a vast coastal swamp extending for hundreds of miles that was barely above sea level.

Unlike modern trees, lycopid tree leaves grew along the full extent of the trunk and branches, falling off as the plant grew, leaving but a small cluster of leaves at the top. These forests became the coal seams we mine for fuel in moderm times; stigmaria are often impregnated with coal, or have coal sticking to their surface. Note the round nodes on the surface of this fossil, which is where small roots grew out in all radial directions. Good fossil specimens are essentially found in coal seams per se, since the details would have been destroyed during coalification. However, in the interburden layers between coal seams, fossils like this one are found, though rarely. This one underwent partial coalification on its outer surface.

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