Fossil Flora

Paleobotany is the systematic study of plant fossils. It includes both terrestrial and marine flora. Like their animal counterparts, plant fossils can be preserved in the fossil record in a variety of ways. The softer plant parts such as leaves and stem may be preserved as impressions. A well-preserved leaf imprint will yield a detailed view of the plant down to its fine structures. 

For wood and sturdy branches, they are commonly preserved through the process of petrifaction. Here the organic components of the plant are substituted by minerals preventing the decay of the plant. The minerals make their way to the plant material through groundwater that seeps to the dead plant. This groundwater is mineral-rich which can then be absorbed by the plant before it begins to decompose.  The chemistry of the groundwater will also determine what color the resulting petrified wood will acquire. Chromium, copper and cobalt will give a blue-green color. Manganese and iron oxides will showcase a pink to orange and a yellow to red-brown color, respectively. Silicate dioxides will give the fossil a transparent white to translucent gray color, and carbon, of course, shades it in deep black color.

The first fossil specimen in the record of the National Paleontological Collections are pieces of petrified wood from Antique collected in 1948.

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