359.2 to 205 MYA
Catalog Number: CG-0009
My daughter found this Lepidodendron specimen during a quick expedition to explore exposed shale along a steep roadside hill. It was lying alongside the road on a raised dirt pile on top of the soil. Logically, I believe this piece was unearthed while PennDot was making road repairs. This piece is from the neighboring Gilpin Township Locality. It is the best example of this species I’ve found to date.
The location was below the Ames Limestone locally. The Ames boundary is less than a mile from this site, however, it is located at the peak of a hill. The exposure only has a few immediate exposed rocks. I have not yet had time to explore them up close. This fossil is assumed to come from the Glenshaw Formation. However, since it was next to state road construction, anything is possible as far as stratigraphic placement is concerned.
A Tall Late Carboniferous Tree
Lepidodendron was able to reach great heights, with specimens observed to be over 100 feet tall with trunks over 3.3 feet in diameter. Unlike most trees today, this tree reproduced using spores. Having a short 10-15 year life cycle, they would obtain a great size and quickly fall upon death. Since life had yet to evolve a method for consuming wood, it was believed the forest floors were littered with these trees. They were part of the plant life that created the great abundance of coal found locally.
The Fossil Matrix
This is not the first example of Lepidodendron I have found. Unfortunately, the previous one was embedded in softer shale. The scale appearance of the bark was well eroded and not easy to examine. This piece set in sandstone is exceptional and my finest example. Imagining its history, the tree likely fell into an ancient sandy riverbed, a seashore, or was covered up by sand in a flood.
Additional Information on Lepidodendron
- Wikipedia Article – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lepidodendron
- Encyclopedia Britannica –
- The Ride and Fall of the Scale Trees –