Plants of the Dinosaur World

Bonnie Jacobs

Part 1

Is it Rock or Is it Bone?

Palenobotany Discovery

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 years ago.

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.

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