Sagillaria mamillaris, fossil plant

Sagillaria mamillaris, fossil plant

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Credit: DIRK WIERSMA/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Sigillaria is an extinct, tree like plant, a spore-bearing genus plentiful during the late Carboniferous period up into the beginning of the Permian. It thrived massively in swamps, under warm and moist conditions, thus contributing considerably to the formation of coal. The plant did not form wood and had long leaves that resembled grass in shape, making it look like a big bottlebrush. It stood upright (reaching heights up to 120 feet) thanks to layers of closely packed leaf bases that formed just below the surface of the trunk, while the centre was filled with marrow. The old leaf bases expanded as the trunk grew in width, and exhibited a lozenge c.q. diamond-shaped pattern, which comes out strikingly in fossils of the Sagillaria, as here seen. Sagillaria bore its spores in cone-like structures attached to the stem and had a very short life cycle, reaching maturity in just a few years.

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Keywords: carboniferous, coal, cones, extinct, fossil, mamillaria, paleobotany, permian, plant, sagillaria, spores, swamps, tree

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