Plants of the Dinosaur World
Is it Rock or Is it Bone?
Laurel's Cone (cm scale)- This fossil cone was
found at Jones Ranch in the same deposits as the dinosaur bones.
Large fossilized logs and smaller cones were also found in these
deposits. The cones and logs are most likely from an extinct
family of plants that were common during the Cretaceous (the
family, Cheirolepidiaceae - pronounced,
"k-eye-ro-lep-id-eee-ay-cee). In some ways, they looked similar
to trees in the juniper family ("mountain cedar" in Texas). For
example, a species common in the Cretaceous of Texas had very
small, scale-like leaves.
Late Cretaceous environment. This is a
reconstruction of some Late Cretaceous vegetation made by the
artist, Karen Carr. The large white flowers, the brownish spiky
fruit stalks and associated cleft leaves are all extinct
relatives of the magnolia. These are all flowering plants
(angiosperms). Fossil evidence indicates that flowering plants
first evolved sometime during the Early Cretaceous - the oldest
flowering plant fossils date to about 132 million years ago. The
entire Cretaceous spans the time period from 144 to 65 million
Jurassic environment. Notice that there are no
flowering plants in this reconstruction by Karen Carr. They had
not yet evolved in the Jurassic. Instead, common plants were
cycads, shown prominently in this picture - they have the
pineapple-like stems and large fronds for leaves. Ferns were
common too, both before and after the Mesozoic, although they are
probably more restricted in their distribution today.