Minda Berbeco's picture

Answer Monday!


Photo Credit: Forest Clay via Compfight cc

Last Friday, I shared a "green" fossil to celebrate "bike to work week". Many of you recognized this plant as an ancestral oak—but which one? There were many guesses: Red oak, black oak, turkey oak, pin oak, cherrybark oak, but none of these were correct. Olivia Ambrogio, who lives where the descendent of this oak might be found, came closest with her guess of the White Oak group. 

So what species is this? It's a Quercus pseudo-lyrata, the modern version being a Quercus lyrata, aka the overcup oak. Never heard of it?  Neither had I, and I did my dissertation work in Eastern forests, where these guys are currently found today (though admittedly I was working much further North from where they live). Apparently the pseudo-lyrata was quite common all over North America back in the Miocene, but now the modern day lyrata is only found in the central and southern U.S.

Thanks to everyone for playing this week—now that I've piqued your interest in plants, I plan to expose you to other "green" fossils during this spring.  Stay tuned!