We begin in Petrified Wood: Part II, with plant
matters. From the microscopic cell
structures to macroscopic grain patterns, our search today favors paleobotany. As
lapidary processes bring out these structures for our perusal, we will add these to our
last months feature.
international eye on our worlds paleoforests, we will travel the globe in search
of petrified wood itself, and some cultural lore that surrounds it. We will touch
metaphysical briefly, but will base ourselves in the concrete science of evolving plant
over time. Our evolution will take us to Pangea, and its subsequent
China, Brazil, Antarctica, and places better known for sighting our logged quandary.
So, pack your
hard hats and safety sunglasses. Were off to explore collections of trunked
wonders worldwide. Lets go!
everyone! I hope you are bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and excited to depart,
as we are leaving in a few minutes. No need for airline tickets, since we will board
charter flight to points all over. Please grab your backpacks and all aboard, while
I get the
morning beverage and in-flight lesson prepared.
will list the places we will visit. They include: Argentina, Brazil, Antarctica!
All of our club
gear is already stowed, per our captain. We have everything from sunscreen
to winter parkas, for our comfort and convenience!
Flying from our
local New Castle County Airport, we will cross the Pacific Ocean to Asia,
then on to frozen Antarctica. To thaw out, we'll stop at sunny Australia, and next
to Africa and
South America. In between, we will hit Europe, and other spots on the globe.
had our primer on petrified wood, todays interactive discussion will feature plant
biology, and its changes over time. We wont be able to cover all of geologic
time, but will hit
upon a representation of many parts of the scale, depending on the locales well be
lapidary, and the other subjects on successive jaunts on our voyage. Are you
ready? Lets go!
and botany have one thing in common; they both use scientific names in the
same manner. According the Linnean system of taxonomy, set down by Carolus Linnaeus
some time ago in 18th century Sweden. He based his work on upon a hierarchy in which
things can be categorized in an ascending/descending order, per their similar features.
Latin is used
here, so a working knowledge of rootwords can help, but is not necessary to
begin with. Just by rote learning a few names, we can jump start our exposure into
goes: Kingdom, Phylum (Division for plants), Class, Order, Family, Genus,
Species, with the first categories being the most general (Kingdom: Animal, Plant).
scientists have developed the system that he popularized.[i]
Today, the International Code of Botanical
Nomenclature (ICBN), set forth by the
International Botanical Congress, outlines the taxonomic designations that we will use in
our article. Three major differences are the addition of Domain before Kingdom,
designations to every step, and Variety and Form below Species,
We will focus
upon trees, and refer here on in to Genus/Species only, if no other
hierarchy is required to differentiate an argument. An example from last months article
is: Araucarioxylon arizonicum.
interesting to note that Linnaeus had originally designated three Kingdoms:
Plants, Animals, and Minerals. I wonder into which category would he position
wood? We shall place it in Kingdom Plantae.
I list a a few,
representative (to this article), in a mix of fossil, extinct, and modern tree
(Spermatophytes, or seed plants)
---Cupressaceae (redwoods & junipers)
---Pinaceae (pines, cedars, firs, etc)
---Voltziales (basal conifers)
Photos by and
Fossil Araucaria cone, Steve Ervin
Modern Pine cone and Sweet-gum seedpod, Ken Casey
||Modern pine cone
A Tertiary relict
Where is petrified wood?
Anywhere that there was a forest,
tree, or wood set within conditions conducive towards
mineralization, there may lie under our feet petrified wood. As we understand the
sedimentary principle of one layer of rock-forming material covering over another over
we can surmise that many of the paleoforests of time lie some feet under our boots. Active
geologies over eons have exposed our mineral woods for our exploration. It is these
features that we will access this trip. We will leave the big digs for
another article. Except
for some hot weather, we wont even have to break a sweat. Isnt that
Before we go, lets review:
There are three main steps towards
permineralization of living plant matter: (1.) encapsulation,
or removal from an environment that causes decomposition, (2.) introduction of sufficient
of a mineral-laden solution to bring about chemical-biochemical replacement of cell
and (3.) time. Our global search takes us to many places, so keep your eyes peeled!
about Pangea, the ancient supercontinent which is the starting place for continental
drift in our chapter on paleobotany. Well need a little history to ramp us up
||Drawing courtesy of the
University of Texas
Photo by Ken Casey ©2006
As an avid
student of geology at Edinburgh University, Charles Darwin became embroiled in
the great geological debates of the 1820s and 1830s. Darwin received acclaim not
only by his
later works as a biologist, but as a geologist, as well. Darwin's most
successful application of
simple geology and his most lasting contribution to the science was his explanation of the
of coral reefs. (They build up on the sides of slowly subsiding seamounts.)[iv]
Though he could
not successfully build upon Lyells work directly beyond this marine theory,
his geographic explorations aboard The Beagle pushed his focus to biology. His
controversial theory of evolution paved the way for us to now understand more on our
landscape of petrified wood. We can combine biology and geology into an earth
supports our studies here. We will begin with his conclusions upon return from his
species covered the single landmass, when broken apart, some went with each
continent. As Darwin noted that isolated populations are likely to speciate,
evolve, a similar process is purported by many of todays scientists when Pangea
into Laurasia and Gondwanaland. That process is known as vicariation. Examples
creatures of the Galapagos Islands, and those of Australia versus those lineages of
and the Americas.
Modern Gingko biloba leaves
Photo courtesy of Reinhard Kraasch
These flora and fauna adapted to their environment, as both climate
and ecosystems altered over time. His mantra survival of the fittest
describes the successfully altered progeny extant in each step of evolution, and moreso,
those who are alive today. Today, we call it adaptive radiation.
Many trees of
the fossil record survive relict today, such as Gingko biloba, which eminated
from China in the Jurassic, some 160 million years ago.[v]
has done so with little or no change, it did survive; whereas, many co-existing
species did not. It was, and is, the fittest. This example would also support
the newer theory
spurts and stasis. This dicot gymnosperm (twin-leafed deriving from naked, or
native to China, can be found in yards, parks, and preserves for us to enjoy.
of Steve Ervin
Photo courtesy of Dr. Bernie Gunn
extinct tree fern,
Photo courtesy of Steve Ervin
species did not. They are extinct. There are many examples: Glossopterids,
and Cordaites are but a few.
The Cycads are
still here, though todays palm trees (Genus: Cycas) are believed to have
some relation to Gingkos, perhaps in an anagenetic lineage,as they are both
The extinct genus Cordaites is structurally somewhat between Cycads and Gingkos.
Cordaites lineage can be traced back to Late Paleozoic times.
a bald cypress-like tree, is believed to have covered all of today's continents
at one time. Psaronius lived as a great tree-fern from the Carboniferous
until the Late Permian.
extinction events can be marked on the geologic time line. The Devonian marked
one of them. At about 364 mya, most of the great fishes disappeared. This
event, marked by
the Frasnian-Famennian boundary, does not greatly defeat the land plants. In fact,
megafloras success may have been the catalyst to marine faunal extinctions.
Cycle, we can appreciate that the greenhouse gas CO2
used up by the burgeoning plant community reduced atmospheric levels, thus generating a
global cooling. The resulting glaciation may have chilled the oceans too much for
cold-blooded fishes to survive. As usual, the generalist species survived to adapt
remainder of the organic carbon became deposited on and in the ground, to
eventually be metamorphosed into coal and peat.
fossil and paleoclimatological evidence points to mass extinctions. Though
this puts a dent into the Snowball
Earth theory, massive environment changes seemed
to have produced modified groups of species. Cold-hardy trees could have weathered
Could this have been the dawning
time of evergreens and deciduous winter-sleepers?
In the Permian (290-248 mya), drier inland conditions may have caused adaptations in
such as the introduction of angiosperms (seed-bearing trees).
|Modern Pine tree
||Modern pine cone
||Modern Pine tree bark
|Photos by Ken Casey
Also, the great
forests of fern-like plants shifted to gymnosperms, plants
offspring enclosed within seeds. Modern conifers, the most familiar gymnosperms of today,
first appear in the fossil record of the Permian.[vii]
The transitional Triassic (248-206
mya) supports recovery of plant biota after a mass
extinction. The holdovers included the lycophytes, glossopterids,
and dicynodonts. While
those that went on to dominate the Mesozoic world include modern conifers, cycadeoids,
and the dinosaurs.[viii] Plant
and insect taxa exploded in numbers, during the Triassic.
The Jurassic (206-144 mya) was overtaken by lush ferns and palm-type cycads. Early
seed plants, they still exist today.[ix]
Pangea began to break-up in the Jurassic, which
contributed to mass vicariation, based
upon hemisphere (northern, southern), and climate change. With the dawn of the
(144-65 mya), many of the lifeforms (especially trees) we know today lived then.
For example, todays beech forests of New Zealand took root in the
Mid-Cretaceous. With the advent of pollen and seed plants(angiosperms),
recolonization of desolate areas took place. Before that, in the Early Cretaceous
(~135 mya) Gondwanian flowering plants, such as the kauri (mentioned in Petrified
Wood, Part I), arrived on the islands.
(Left): Petrified Beech wood, polished slab
Photo permission courtesy of the Iron Hill Museum
Newark, Delaware (From their display case at our March 4-5, 2006 Show)
Among the first angiosperms to reach New Zealand was the wind-pollinated southern
beech tree (Nothofagus species). It arrived between 80 and 110 million years ago, after
Zealand had separated from the Australian part of Gondwana, but before it had separated
from the Antarctic region. For several million years, the beech forests stretched
from Tasmania, and through what is now New Zealand and Marie Byrd Land in Antarctica, on
into South America. Even today, the beech forests of New Zealand and South America
resemble each other so closely that each has the same parasitic fungi, mosses and
sucking bugs inhabiting their bark (Stevens et al., 1995).[x]
Lepidodendron aculeatum trunk fragment
Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org
Timeline of Tree Evolution
410 mya Vascular plants (Early Devonian)
380 mya Cone-bearing Gymnosperms (Late
135 mya Angiosperms (flowering plants)
Europe, now England, a Cretaceous to Jurassic paleoforest looms. There were
cypress, junipers, and cycadophytes, some similar to those of the Mediterranean
The Fossil Forest, west of Lulworth Cove, Dorset, southern England, is a classic
locality with the remains and moulds of late Jurassic or early Cretaceous coniferous trees
rooted in a palaeosol (ancient soil), the Great Dirt Bed. Above the trees is stromatolitic
limestone and over this the unusual Broken Beds, a limestone breccia that was originally
Fossil Forest at Victoria Park in Glasgow, Scotland Lepidodendron
can be found in their original growth positions. Otherwise known as the scale
tree from the
Greek, it was deposited during the carboniferous in sandstone.[xii]
||Steve, you have recently retired as a Biology/Zoology Professor Emeritus at
California State University (CSU) Fresno. Your stated areas of interest and research are
in Avian ecology, island ecology, and passerine population dynamics. How has your work in
these areas guided you towards an interest in evolution and paleontology?
My interest in evolution and paleontology predates my degrees. I had
an exceptional HS Biology Teacher in the 60's. One of the areas for my Ph.D. examinations
was avian paleontology and my Ph.D. dissertation was in avian ecology/behavior.
||You visited the Galapagos Islands in 1983-84 and 1987. What did you find there?
Oh, by the way, Happy Darwin Day <http://darwinday.org/englishL/home/index.html?>!
||Actually I have been to Galapagos in 82-83, 87, and 90. The 1987
trip was a sabbatical and I worked on Large-billed Flycatchers and Dark-billed Cuckoos.
The studies just developed basic information on relatively little known species. I lived
in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz for 4 months. Galapagos is a wonderful place to see
evolution in action, plus it is the Mecca for biologists. Too few people truly
"see" Galapagos unless they live there and travel from island to island.
Differences in the features of a species are visible when you go from one island to the
next. I have been to most of the places Darwin visited...an exceptional experience when
combined with later visits to his home in London.
||When teaching evolution with petrified wood as a tool, what would be a
representative example you use, and why?
||I have taught evolution for 32 years...plus some teaching as a
graduate student. It is the ONLY way that science views the world. Any other way is not
science and is usually an oxymoron. My wood collection is only a fraction of what I
presented, but I emphasized distribution of fossil forms to illustrate such principles as
continental drift. I usually used Araucaria, Ginkgo, and Glossopteris
as examples. Of course the first two still exist and have interesting distributions.
||Have you found that fossil plant evidence has had an influence in your work as a
Biologist/Zoologist? Or, have the two interests evolved divergently?
The answer would be convergence rather than divergence. Plant
ecology/paleontology goes hand-in-hand with animal ecology/paleontology.
||You name your personal homepage Corvus. Is that after the generic
name for crows, ravens, and jays? Has the study of their evolution been a profound
influence on you? Or, do you just like these passerine birds?
||Corvids are considered one of the most "advanced" of the
passerine birds. They are incredibly intelligent and even use tools in some cases. While I
did not work with them, I have always been intrigued and impressed with them...they are
among my favorites.
||Our article attempts to link the first perching birds found in China with certain
species of fossil trees. The attempt is to suggest a picture with our supposed
paleo-view as a mind tool to grasp a better perspective, like on TV. I use the
example of either Microraptor (feathered dinosaur) or Archaeopteryx
(proto-bird) as potentially being able to perch upon the Gingko tree. As a new
bird to this branch of science, would my supposition be remotely plausible? (Of
course, outside the scope of this article, I would need to find evidence for and conduct
research concluding as such.) Or, what flora might these creatures have perched upon, if
||Most illustrations use cycads as dominant trees during the Jurassic
and Cretaceous. Ginkgo was apparently present around Solnhofen in Germany. I would guess
it was in China as well.
You picture on your personal website a fossil Glossopteris leaf. (Have you used
this tree in support of Continental Drift?
||Absolutely...although it is only one small shred of a vast amount of
evidence. Continental drift is now considered a fact...not a theory. This is just the same
for evolution...it is also a FACT. The theory is "Natural Selection"....how the
fact works. People usually get this wrong as we tend to shorten the phrase: Darwin's
Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection" (correct) to just "Darwin's
Theory" (incorrect). Both Evolution and Continental Drift can be DIRECTLY
measured...there are parallels here.
||You wrote a paper, titled Human
Ecology: Biology, Evolution, Environment. Where could I find it, and what was
the major point(s) you argued on Evolution?
||This is not a paper...it was the title of a course I taught for over
20 years. It covered human evolution and other aspects of human ecology both in the past
and now. One of the topics I never covered was Creation Science...except to illustrate why
it is not scientific.
||What order would you say your interests developed in these areas: biology,
ornithology, or paleobotany (petrified wood)?
||I can't put these in any order as some are inclusive of others. Both
ornithology and paleontology are branches of biology (and also geology). I am a very
broadly trained biologist with a wide range of evolutionary interests.
||As a collector of minerals, fossils, and petrified wood, when did it become a
hobby for you?
||Sometime in the late 1950's. I started collecting things as a kid
usually does. My interests grew from there.
||Are there any works or resources that you would like to suggest our readers check
out regarding petrified wood and/or evolution?
||There are too many to actually list. On the web: Talk Origins
Archive, UC Berkeley Paleo Dept, Pharyngula, Olduvai George, Down House etc. etc.
||Are there any suggestions that you would like to offer students of life science,
earth science, or of evolution?
is absolutely essential that people understand that all of biology and medicine are
based on Evolution. It is a FACT. It really troubles me that so few people in this country
understand that... and instead prefer religious and mystic views. To be a biologist
REQUIRES that you understand and work in an evolutionary context...anything else is a
throwback to the Dark Ages. You can be a religious person and an evolutionist...you just
cannot mix the two.
||Have you any additional comments?
Just to thank you for the opportunity to express some views!
Plants and trees
have developed over time, giving us rich history to explore. Charles Darwin,
noted naturalist, assumed a gradual modification over generations of descendants; whereas,
some modern biologists work with the premise of bursts of changes, then periods of stasis
(punctuated equilibrium). Mass extinctions and long episodes of statis seem to
latter theory. One could assume that with pseudoextinction, an example being the
of modern birds as the dinosaurs descendants, that dinosaurs must today exist;
however, in a
acclaim not only as a biologist, but as a geologist, as well. So, his eye for
our current subject matter could guide us in our basic understanding of how trees
by petrified wood) have changed over geologic time.
It will also be helpful for us to learn "morphology" (tree parts) and some
biology. Dont worry, just enough to aid us in identifying on species from
another. For example, xylem,
phloem, and bark, cambium, precambium, etc. In vascular plants,
xylem is one of the two types of transport tissue in plants, phloem being the other one.
The word xylem is derived from classical Greek
xúlon, "wood", and indeed the best known xylem tissue is wood. The xylem transports sap
from the root up the plant: xylem sap consists mainly of water and inorganic ions,
although it can contain a number of organic chemicals as well.[xiii]
It is most likely one development that
encouraged or supported gigantism.
(Left): Tree Anatomy in cross-section
nutrient uptake is key to survival of plants. Xylem appeared early in the
of terrestrial plant life. Fossil plants with anatomically preserved xylem are known from
Silurian (more than
400 million years ago), and trace fossils resembling individual xylem cells
may be found in earlier Ordovician rocks.[xiv]
Food is handled
by the phloem. In vascular plants, phloem is the living tissue
organic nutrients, particularly sucrose, to all parts of the plant where needed. In trees, the phloem
is part of the bark, hence
the name, derived from the Greek word for "bark".[xv]
Gymnosperm wood radial-section
slides by and courtesy of John D. Curtis, Nels R. Lersten, and Michael D. Nowak ©2002
vascular cambium is a lateral meristem: The vascular cambium is the source of both
xylem (inwards) and the secondary phloem (outwards), and hence is located
between these tissues in the stem. The vascular cambium usually consist of two types of
- Fusiform initials (tall cells, axially-oriented)
- Ray initials (almost isodiametric cells - smaller and round to
angular in shape)
Vascular cambium is a part of the plant's meristem - series of
tissues consisting of embryonic
(incompletely differentiated) cells from which other (and more differentiated) plant tissues
We will cover such tree groups as:
Angiosperms (deciduous), Gymnosperms (coniferous),
Cycads, and extinct fossil trees.
To get our inquisitive engines
going, Ill ask if anyone knows what is believed to have been
the first tree?
Thats right: Archaeopteris
(~370 mya), a
weve covered how our petrified trees evolved and got placed over geologic time,
we are ready to go over plant anatomy. Well need to know their parts (living
and fossil), if we
are going to be successful in identifying different species in the field.
with the basics. Many fossil trees, like modern trees, have branches, trunks,
and roots. We can easily identify these major parts as tree-like. Grain
pattern have been
preserved in many specimens, thus aiding us in our comparson to modern woods.
concentric rings comprising the trunks log structure also aid us. Sometimes,
we have clues deposited nearby, such as leaf impressions, fossilized seeds, cones, or
Even remnants of insect infestation, as in Mesozoic Antarctic woods can help. You might
remember your high school biology class lesson on plants and trees. The key
elements of a
tree are: xylem, phloem, cambium
doesnt bring it back, well, lets try a picture. Take a look above at the tree in
||Petrified gymnosperm wood
||Petrified gymnosperm wood
slides by and courtesy of John D. Curtis, Nels R. Lersten, and Michael D. Nowak ©2002
P-T Pine photo by Ken Casey ©2006
well go into some advanced stuff, like plant stones, and such. A
(or Phytolith) serves to add structural stability to plants. These microscopic
bodies can be
made from silicon or calcium oxalate. In paleobotany, these phytoliths often remain
serving as fossil evidence in identifying ancient flora. A relationship between
and fossil herbivores can be forged. From this evidence, changes in extinct animal
and their resulting evolutions, can be measured and compared. The chief faunal
found within coprolites. It is interesting to note that Charles Darwin mentioned
in his writings.[xvii]
of flowering plants produce calcium oxalate crystals in some or all of their organs.
Because these crystals occur in various shapes and hydration states that are specific and
consistent within each organ, they have been used periodically as an internal taxonomic
character. Since crystals and their macropatterns are usually retained in the mature
and stems even after they die or drop off the plant, such information should be useful for
identification purposes, possibly in forensics.[xviii]
|Development of the calcium
oxalate crystal macropattern in pomegranate
(Punica granatum, Punicaceae)
Photo by and courtesy of Harry T. Horner
Photo by Ken Casey ©2006
Note: After having taken this picture, I promptly consumed
the plum for my lunch. Then, I got back to writing.
In Botanical Terms:
Dendochronology, paleosol, paleopalynology (fossil pollen),
leaf physiognomy, are all terms for us to learn in our study of paleobotany. Well be
some of these terms in our quest to learn more about Petrified Wood!
Photomicrograph slide by and courtesy of Curtis, Lersten,
and Nowak ©2002
Petrified angiosperm wood, radial-section
showing the tyloses in the vessel
When paleontologists and
paleobotanists study and reconstruct lifeforms over evolutionary
time, they require a context, called phylogeny. This biological context
connects groups of
organisms by ancestor/descendant relationships. Extinct organisms,
fossil forms of those
today extant, and living trees require a structure to show how they are interrelated,
This genealogy of species can be
ensconced in field of systematics. Taxonomic science,
or the naming and classifying of lifeforms, underlies the study of these relationships.[xix]
If you would like to know more, UC
Berkeley offers some resources:
Into Phylogenetic Systematics
Introduction to Cladistics
When making a phylogenetic
analysis of organisms, say Gingko biloba, the best modern
acceptable method is cladisitics. Cladistics is a particular
method of hypothesizing
relationships among organisms.[xx]
The basis for cladistics are
synapomorphies, or the shared derived characteristics of
Another example of applying
phylogenetics in paleobotany is the contention to accept
a pre-Silurian plant record. By studying the microfossil evidence of cyrptospores,
Wilson A. Taylor of the University of Wisconsin at Eau-Claire in his paper, The case
land flora in the Cambrian - ultrastructural evidence, proposes this hypothesis as a
Some Paleobotany being conducted
today I have recently perused an abstract on a
presentation on Miocene Maryland fossil endocarp (nut shell) evidence. There are
of resources for paleontologists and paleobotanists. I will list a few at the end of the
many of which were presentations at the 2004 and 2005 Botany Conferences. Some current
work by botanists have literally unearthed aspects on paleoenvironments for our modern
reconstruction upon the fossil record. The gamut here runs from plant forms
extinction events, the earliest insect pollinations, paleoclimatic changes in temperate
Antarctica, and early proof of autumn leave color changes.
Beyond just taking a
paleo-snapshot of a fossil-forming environment, new volumes of data
have been plotted to demonstrate trends in climate change and evolution. For
various paleogeographic reconstructions suggest that the climate warmed during the Late
Cretaceous partly due to accumulation of greenhouse gases.[xxiii]
||Inversand Greensand Mine, Sewell, New Jersey
Our club's local collecting area encompasses these
fossil-laden sands at the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) Boundary.
Photo by Ken Casey ©2005
Moreover, derived from
evidence about the differing chronostratigraphy surrounding the
Cretaceous-Teritiary Boundary (K-T) Event, the faunal and floral extinction dynamics
suggest a new interpretation. Professors W. A. Green and L. J. Hickey of Yale
offer that [t]his substantiates some of our standing assumptions about the
extinctions at the end of the Cretaceous, which may have eliminated taxa but do not seem
to have restructured plant ecosystems significantly. It provides an example of ecosystem
stability under environmental perturbation and highlights the influence of evolutionary
innovation on evolutionary history.[xxiv]
Some palynologists have proposed
that Middle Triassic cycads were insect pollinated,
like those today. They use fossil pollen and insect coprolites as evidence on these
gymnosperms (seed plants).[xxv]
Biologists at the University of
Kansas have presented on the topic of paleoclimate in
Tree rings are well
preserved in Late Permian and Middle Triassic permineralized peats
from the central Transantarctic Mountains, and can be used as paleoclimate indicators.
During both of these time periods, the Earth had a greenhouse climate, with temperatures
in polar regions sufficient for plant growth. Previously there has not been much
information obtained from Gondwana Triassic wood, and the permineralized material
represents an important source of data on growing conditions in Antarctica at this
My favorite development is the
amazing preservation of leaf material from Idaho, which
shows us that Fall leaves did indeed change color seasonally some millions of years ago.
an interesting correlation has been made between fossil and living tree genera from the
Tertiary (~15 mya) in northern Idaho. Fossil foliage has been superbly well
[b]ecause of cold, anoxic bottom water and a high rate of sedimentation,
the local biota was excellent. During the last 15 million years this area has
tectonically stable, resulting in little post depositional change of any biota remains
in the sediments. Leaves often show original fall colors (brown, red, and yellow). Some
contain Chloroplasts and show the original green color. Biochemistry, unique in each
genera of plant species correlates well with similar fossil species.[xxvii]
When we piece the paleo-puzzle
together, we can see trends of lifeform changes, known
as evolution. I will proffer an example that can bring a picture to our paleo-view
upon an image most of us have witnessed in our lives: a bird perching upon a tree.
question, How did he or she get here from a long travel over
generations? Lets find out.
Evolution: Dinosaurs, Birds, and Trees
Lets start from a certain
geologic point in time. About 550 mya, the Cambrian Explosion
occurred. Most of the major continents have moved into the southern hemisphere, thus
forming the supercontinent Pangea. First plants on land? They occurred at least 400 mya,
in the Early Paleozoic. Vascular plants (xylem, phloem, etc.) grew in by the
(443-417 mya), then the Devonian (417-354 mya) brought about tree diversification.[xxviii]
The earliest trees occurred and
spread globally about 370 mya, as [t]rees evolved
some 180 million years after the Cambrian explosion when the land masses were mostly
south of the equator and Pangea had begun to form. Because the land masses were fairly
close together, the forests were able to spread across the land quite rapidly.[xxix]
The Devonian (410-360 mya) brought
about the rise of Archaeopteris, now believed
to be the earliest tree. Its eventual biotic provinces were Laurasia and Gondwana.
upright growth and shallow roots took advantage of water and minerals more deeply
below the surface than its ancestors.[xxx] 3D Image of Archaeopteris
During the Carboniferous (360-286
mya), forests of lychophytes towered to greater
than 100 feet! These behemoth scale trees share the trait of being the first
which still survive in albeit a relatively miniature form today. A differentiating
trait is in their
leaf structure. Lycophytes evolved separately as microphylls, which have
only a single
unbranched strand of vascular tissue, or vein, whereas megaphylls, found in other plants
with leaves, have multiple veins, usually branching one or more times within the
The Division Lycopodiophyta
(sometimes called Lycophyta) is a tracheophyte
of the Kingdom Plantae.
It is the oldest extant (living) vascular plant division and includes
some of the most "primitive" extant species. These species reproduce by shedding
and have macroscopic alternation of generations, although some are homosporous while
others are heterosporous.
They differ from all other vascular plants in having microphylls,
leaves that have only a single vascular trace (vein) rather than the much more complex
megaphylls found in ferns and
Leading up to the Triassic Period
(248-206 mya), global climate change occurred at about
the time of Earths largest extinction event: the Permo-Triassic extinction.
survivors included lycophytes
Typical Triassic tree flora included cycads
and conifers, along with ferns growing in the understory. Evolution prompted the
of ancestors to our modern conifers and cycadeoids. The glossopterids, however,
extinct by the end of the period. Dinosaurs, as we have traditionally known them,
the planet, until the K-T Event.[xxxiii]
Triassic Mesophyta plants (middle
flora) of the Late Permian to Middle Cretaceous
included ever smaller lycopods, Calamites-type plants, and ferns. Variations
according to climate and geography, such as giant seed ferns overtowering trees in part of
Gondwana. Whereas, cycads and gingkos inhabited drier, interior climes, such as in
northern Pangea. And, Araucariacean conifers were the predominate large trees
Laurasia, with primitive gingkoaleans (e.g. Sphenobaiera and Glossphyllum) and cycads
as lower story and underbrush.[xxxiv]
|Chinese conifer (Petrified
Photo by and courtesy of Steve Speer of
Photo courtesy of Steve Ervin
Before Trees and up to
Flight Before trees, there was moss and algae. Tree evolution
includes the development of a vascular system with roots. Dr. Robert Banner of Yale
University presented his findings at Earth Systems Processes, a multidisciplinary meeting
in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is hosted jointly by the Geological Society of London
the Geological Society of America (GSA). His presentation, How trees changed the
offers evidence of radical geological change deriving from such shifts in a new biota
ecosystem. He argues that changes in Earths atmosphere and the natural Carbon
have been advanced. As we shall see:
first trees soaked up nutrients from rocks at a rate never before seen. This
enhanced the weathering of calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) silicate minerals,
which in turn removed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as Ca and Mg became
locked together with carbonate ions in lime-rich sediments in the worlds oceans.
The removal of CO2 from the atmosphere by this method and by increased
photosynthesis (fixation) led to atmospheric CO2 stabilising at lower levels than
the world had known for most of its previous 4200Ma history.[xxxv]
Increased erosion levels occurred from root-splitting, as trees took their nutrients from
rocks. The procress proceeds with wood lignin becoming buried into these
Atmospheric carbon dioxide used up by these large plants led to proportional deposition
of removed carbon. Organic carbon is removed from the wood, thus becoming
large plant photosynthesis advanced globally, greater percentages of atmospheric oxygen
Enriched air brought about faunal evolution, in that gigantism took over for a bit of
geologic time. The early resulting insect populations became huge, compared to even
todays largest dragonfly, for example.[xxxvi]
wasnt long after (in millions of years), that pollinating insects helped spread
trees and plants conquer the globe. Dinosaurs, then birds perched in trees, or flew from
ground first. Both sides of the origin of flight debate still rage today.
The first tree-dwelling bird
(dinosaur descendent, Archaeopteryx) must have evolved after
trees. Or, when did the earliest avian perch on trees? The debate rages, whether avians
evolved from Mezozoic thecodonts, theropods, (or dinosaurs, at all). Still the
is, Which came first, the tree-dwelling dino, or the flight-adaptive
bird? Ornithologists differ
in opinion as to a ground flight or a tree flight origin.
Another question looms: Did flight
occur before trees evolved? If so, then the latter opinion on flight origin
could hold true.
Professor Gary Ritchison of Eastern Kentucky University, in his BIO554/754 Ornithology
Lecture Notes 1: Introduction to Birds, poses such questions.[xxxvii]
Artwork by Luis V. Rey ©2003
||Microraptor zhaoianus (Artist's
Painting by Luis V. Rey ©2003
Why are we talking
birds and dinos in addition to trees?, you ask. Well, they are all
wrapped up in the process of adaption, environment, and evolution. Plants took root
literal adaptation) to land, and the Devonian (417-354 mya) demise of the major specialist
fishes followed. Trees evolved from there. Tetrapods climbed out of the swamps to
lungs from gills and legs from fins. Well look at supposed cause and effect as
underlying premise to our argument.
To continue, Was it Microraptor
zhaoianus (a feathered dino) or Archaeopteryx (a proto
bird) who first lived in trees? Lets compare the dates of each bit of
(Late Jurassic, 206-144 mya), Microraptor (20 million years later than Archaeopteryx),
Trees (Early Devonian,~370 mya). Scientists have discovered evidence of the earliest
helical-crowned tree found in Lower Pennsylvanian strata (323-290 mya).[xxxviii]
had good branches to sit upon.
|Microraptor zhaoianus (Artist's
Painting by Luis V. Rey ©2003
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.org
were uncovered in the Liaoning Province, northeast of Beijing, China.
So, trees preceded birds as a
lifeforms on Earth. Trees had some 200-odd million years
to develop before the smaller dinosauria and avians. Then, yes, arboreal creatures
potential perches and launches for flight. Did birds find better homes in these? Did
adapt to flight there? The answer is still out there.
The helical crowns were found in the U. S. What about the trees of China, where Arcaheopteryx
and Microraptor were found? Could these trees have branches or leaves that
could support the weight of these creatures? Were both stands of trees similar
cladistically or enough in characteristic to branch out, literally? We will have to
look into the fossil record. We know that Gingko trees populated China about that
time in the Early Jurassic (160 mya).
Map of China from mapquest.com,
customized by Ken Casey
That means that both Archaeopteryx
and Microraptor (and perhaps some undiscovered links)
had megaflora with branches sizeable enough to support them. The earliest perching birds
passerines) are believed to have evolved at the time of Gondwanas great breakup
The mild climate of the Late Jurassic supported vast numbers of flora and fauna.
First came the
Order Passeriformes, then divergence into Suborder Tyranni, and into the
5,400 species of Aves
known today. Biochemical studies have helped to reveal their origins.[xxxix]
Of course, there were other tree
types extant then, but one could better picture todays
iving Gingko perched full of modern song birds. The stretch to the imagination is
far-fetched. Who knows, perhaps ancient Chinese lore and use of Gingko as a medicine
harken back to such a combined origin of these species. Now that we have visited
lets move on to our other destinations! World Paleoforests and Dig Sites
today study Antarctica. In past articles, we have discussed geologists,
mainly. Now we get to go further into our study of the frozen continent!
This brief jaunt
will take us into paleo-country, to coin a term. Underneath the ice,
fossil evidence of temperate forests and dinosaurs. Today, we will focus upon
Coal and peat
beds exist, housing specimens of fossil-mineralized wood. Scientists of the
University of Kansas Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Edith L. Taylor and
Derek W. Kellogg, have put to us that tiny insects have bored their way into the geologic
presented paper, Evidence of wood-boring mites from the Paleozoic and Mesozoic
of Antarctica, they state that: Late Permian, Middle Triassic and Middle
permineralized peats from the central Transantarctic Mountains, Antarctica have yielded
containing tunnels and coprolites preserved within them. The coprolites fall into 5 size
1 in the Permian, 2 in the Triassic and 2 in the Jurassic.[xl]
has offered a resource for our serious scientific study. With her husband,
Professor Thomas Taylor, they have formed the Division of Paleobotany at the University of
Kansas in 1995. They had brought their extensive collections of slides with
Antarctic Collection is available there today.[xli]
Two Australian Antarctic explorers, Webb and Fielding, have procured samples of petrified
wood from a coal lens at the Lambert Glaciers graben, North Prince Charles
Permian-Early Triassic feature evidences ancient tree-life there. It also suggests
support of Continental Drift. I do wonder if similar tree species did exist in
(Left): Petrified Wood from Jetty Oasis, Prince Charles
Photo courtesy of Maurice de Graaf © 2006
Before the Cretaceous break-up between Antarctica and India, the Lambert Graben was
probably continuous with the Son-Mahanadi Graben in northeastern India.[xlii]
on flora can we make here?
above the base of the coal measures is the Dragon's Teeth Member, a thin
lensoidal unit of carbonaceous claystone containing upwards-coarsening sandstone cycles.
The lowermost bed within this member is a silicified peat with abundant petrified wood.
Dragon's Teeth Member formed in a shallow lake, perhaps dammed by minor earth
petrified wood as crisp as freshly hewn timber lay scattered under our boots,
despite our being at least 2,000 miles (3,219 kilometers) from the nearest living tree.
This is probably Glossopteris
wood, Askin explained, handing me the stump of an ancient
sapling. "It was a deciduous tree that also lived in South America, Africa, India,
Finding it in Antarctica was one of the things that proved the continents must have been
linked at one time."[xliv]
discoveries of petrified wood have been reported in the logs of Captain Carl Anton
Larsen of Norway. During an 1893-94 voyage, he found some on seymour Island.[xlv]
Now, let's warm up to sunny
Australia! We'll just dive right on into the crystal blue ocean
waters, after viewing these handsome specimens:
There are various locales
around Asia that bear petrified wood. Some of the more popular
ones are China and Indonesia. Thailand now offers a source to visit. We'll
drive, then hike a bit.
Wood Park at Ban Krok Duean Ha, Tambon Suranari. The area has a
collection of over 10,000 petrified wood pieces. Petrified wood was unearthed here just
beneath the surface to 8 metres underground.
The wood is of
various sizes from pebbles to rocks with a diametre of over 50
centimetres and some pieces are more than 1 metre long. The wood comes in many
colours in the same stone and in different ones. They are aged between 1 to 70 million
years old. Provincial authorities plan to make this area a petrified wood park and the
first museum of its kind in Asia to conserve these prehistoric treasures for future
generations to study.[xlvi]
The continent of
Africa holds much petrified wood. The Island of Madagascar is our
destination. Take a look at these beautiful spheres and slabs!
Argentina and Brazil
Argentina and Brazil both contain
paleoforests. Some of the Argentinian material that we
will virtually collect originated in the Jurassic. For example, these Araucaria
There are ranches, and other private lands, at which we can
obtain permission to collect
some prized specimens. If you don't want to carry much, then just buy some online
return to the clubhouse!
"Argentina's Central Steppes are home to the Petrified Forest and inhabited by a
of animals, including the burrowing owl, mara, and lesser rheas.
The Petrified Forest
Millions of years ago, after the formation of the Andes
mountains, volcanic ash covered
the early forests -- killing the trees, but preserving them from decay. Mineral-saturated
water seeped through the ash and into the buried logs, filling the empty cells of the
decaying wood until they fossilized and turned to stone.
Petrified Wood Polished Slabs
Photos by and courtesy of Steve Speer, Sticks-in-stones.com
Considered to be one of the
world's best petrified reserves, the Petrified Forest has many
trees that measure more than 10 feet in diameter and 90 feet long. Compared to petrified
in the United States and Australia that measure less than six feet in diameter, the trees
Central Steppes are significantly larger.[xlvii]
|Orange fernwood sphere, Brazil
||Fossil fernwood sphere, Brazil
Photos by and courtesy of:
(Top row, center): Steve Ervin; (Top row, left and right): Jackie Lapin, SpheresToYou.com
(Bottom row; Top row, left): Steve Speer, Sticks-in-stones.com
Paleoforest management to date,
has been a compendium of forestry and park
preservation. In the U. S., most of these public lands are administered by parks
departments, rather than by forestry services.
As it is generally against the law
to collect specimens from these protected lands,
many visitors still cant resist to sample the colorful fossils, strewn about the
like candy. When park rangers at the Petrified Forest National Park ask of guests
upon their exiting the park, most people admit to procuring a piece for posterity.
Guiltily, most hand them back to the admonishing ranger.
Plant fossils can be poached on a
large scale, too. This massive removal by
miners without a claim prompted government officials to enact tougher
or just to extend a parks boundaries to protect the resource.
A case has been made at the 2005
Botany Conference by several concerned
scientists about a Nevada paleoarbor, the Lund Petrified Forest:
Scientific investigation of the little known Lund Petrified Forest in northwestern
has revealed more than 250 mappable occurrences of petrified wood remains. Sites
range from pits left from past tree removal by bulldozers and dynamite to large stumps
up to 4.5 m (15 ft.) in diameter buried upright in place by a volcanic tuff. This ash-flow
tuff is not yet dated, but its position at the local base of the caldera section suggests
Miocene age of ca. 16.0-15.5 Ma. Analysis of the wood structure suggests some of the
large stumps are most similar to sequoiadendron giganteum (bigtree, giant sequoia),
which today grows in small scattered stands restricted to the western slope of the
central to southern Sierra Nevada at elevations between 1220 to 2560 m (4000 to
8400 ft.). Work is underway with the Bureau of Land Management to develop a plan
to preserve the trees for research and recreation by developing means to minimize the
effects of freeze/thaw weathering, uprooting of stumps from the overgrowth of
vegetation, and unauthorized collecting. Once dominated by a forest of towering giants,
today the Lund area is replaced by a high desert sagebrush community, yet another
sobering reminder of the profound impact climate change has on the landscape, life
and distribution of organisms through time.[xlviii]
Sadly, not all resources can be
saved in situ. Some must be relocated, or more
practically, samples taken and housed in a research facility archive.
has become an increasingly important source of both
physical and digital data. In paleobotany, conservation of collections is
important as some sites may no longer exist, and increasing regulations or
preservation of sites may have limited further field work. In the case of remote
localities where additional collecting may be cost prohibitive, maintenance of existing
and historical material is crucial.[xlix]
Division of Paleobotany homepage
Parks and Paleoforests
Forest of Lesvos, Greece
Petrified Forest National Monument, Santa
Cruz Province, Central Steppes, Patagonia,
Argentina (Bosque Petrificado)
Petrified Forest of Puyango, Ecuador
Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia,
Denmark, Mexico, China, Japan[l]
Today and Tomorrow Trees (An Aside)
A curious site would be seeing a
bird sitting upon a petrified tree. And, Will todays
genetically engineered trees of today become tomorrows petrified wood?
Now that we have a scientific
context for our favored petrified wood, we can indulge a
short journey of the imagination. What can ask ourselves, What is the appeal
wood? Is it the rainbow colors, or maybe that it looks like would, but is not
will delve into lapidary, shortly. But first, we have another stopinto Navajo
course, I waited until we were invited, so lets go in.
We have seen into the geologic
past into ancient biotic realms. Our search for
knowledge has brought us closer to understanding the origins and development of our
modern trees. Personally, I revel at the fact that some species have remained nearly
unchanged for mega-millions of years!
As our imagination has been
brightened by example and our urge to explore the past,
we must include at least one view derived for a people before modern science. From a
cultural perspective, families, groups, and individuals have carried on either an oral or
written tradition. These stories recount what their ancestors passed on to them as
accounts of nature and creation of petrified wood. Our example this trip will be a
the Navajo Creation Story.
On our last
excursion, we mentioned that Paiute and Navajo peoples considered to
be earthly evidence of the divine, as based in their oral traditions.
Americans had various beliefs about the origin of the petrified logs in what is
now Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. Natives of the Paiute tribe held that these
giant petrifications were spent arrow shafts and spears dispatched by the Thunder God
Shinauav and his enemies during a great battle. Members of the Navajo tribe believed
they were the bones of the great giant monster Yeitso.[li]
In the Navajo
Creation story, petrified wood was part of the seeding of the earth
of all plants:
In each hole was dropped two kinds
of seed. In each hole was dropped a seed of the
small Sun Flower and a seed of the Big Sunflower. After First Woman had planted this
she began to plant all of the plants, evergreens, firs, pines and all things that had been
created and are on the earth today. From a clayey material were created the other plants
and trees. After the ascension this vegetation turned into rocks and was washed up here
as petrified wood. The seeds were thrown into the wind which carried them and buried
them beneath the sand. The earth at this time was very small so First Man threw the
seeds all over the earth very easily. Upon each of the mountains First Man planted
Perhaps this is
allegorical, alluding to a single landmass, like Pangea, as being
small without having to cross oceans to travel. The ascension
could be the long-term
lifecycle of trees over geologic time. I do not want to presuppose that I could
and interpret sacred stories and texts, as I do respect them. Only, that the Navajo
have shared their Creation story with us; and to me, this passage seems to make sense,
as witnessed in the terms of modern science. It is my personal view, I mean not to
properties have been attributed to our favored stone this month, Petrified
Wood. Its physical colors and textures have been [a]ssociated with stability,
strength, longevity, grounding, calmness and wisdom. Helps us communicate with
Teaches us to respect old people and ancient knowledge.[liii]
Some folks like
to gaze into or at stones, focusing their minds eye. Hoping to
ascertain the answer to a question, to heal, or just to meditate, each viewer has his or
her own goal in mind: Like looking into the layers of the tree, petrified wood aids
looking into our own past, and learning from our mistakes to create a better future. It
also aid in past life regression works, and help us understand the evolution of our own
incarnations: past, present and future.
It is very
grounding, being able to stabilize emotions and help to release worries,
bringing courage and strength. Especially useful to heal the skeletal system, skin, and
hair; but it can increase our overall health and lifespan.[liv]
Renaissance jewelers have been known to pick up and stare at any green
stone, as this verdurous view would clear their vision, as if they could go outdoors and
look at trees. I have not had success with this method in my jewelry work, but
instead to go outdoors and admire the trees themselves. I would suggest to you,
having read this far, to do the same, for a break, if you like. When you come back,
well retire to the world of fiction.
I wonder if
Enyas 1995 song The Memory of Trees could be thought to refer to
an ancient Irish spiritual belief of the importance of the majesty of tree spirits.
European scientist theorized that all plants had souls. I am curious if petrified
forests colossal spirit still graces Mother Earth.
metaphysicians and healers look to a similarly esoteric viewpoint,
concerning its practical uses: I have found no truth in the alleged connection of
rings making Petrified Wood sympathetic to the maladies of our own body and circulatory
system. However because of the minerals that are usually involved, see my entries on
Agate, Fossils, and Opalized as it can
be this also.[lv]
author goes on to offer his remedy.
Books and Movies
As early as 1880, Famous writer Robert Louis Stevenson
visits Charles Evans and
his Petrified Forest. Stevenson recounts his visit in his booklet, The Silverado
Before that, though, the Brothers Grimm write upon the
backdrop of an enchanted
forest. When I did a Yahoo! search for petrified forest, one result made
mention of the
new fictional movie about their lives. It made me think that petrified
also mean afraid,
as many of this writing duos characters were loath to be.
Last month, I had mentioned a good old-time movie, called
The Petrified Forest
(1936), based on a stage play. The film starred Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart, and
took place in the Arizona desert. Have you seen it, yet? I bought my own
wonder what challenges there would be to colorize it, that is, every log in the scenery?
Going further, one might imagine a colorful landscape in
fiction if, say, the Painted
Deserts multi-hued petrified forest came to life. Perhaps, by using the
technique used by cinetographers to create the background in the Robin Williams
movie, What Dreams May Lie, we could better see it.
When the Ents went on the warpath in The Lord of the Rings
Trilogy (books and those
cantankerous apple trees in the
movies), didnt they seem to be lifeless and petrified, having lived eons before the
characters became animated? How about
Wizard of Oz,or the viscious ones in the Harry Potter books and movies?
There is so much lore about trees and references to petrified
history, and across cultures. As this wood, this mineral, this fossil can be
laden on seven continents, it waits for us to pick it up and admire it. We can
view its lightplay of many colors inspiring us to collect it, or form it into an object of
polished beauty. It can beckon us to become enlightened as to its deep history and
rare and unique countenance.
Last month we have been treated to a look at
sculptor Gary Nickel's petrified wood and gemstone
art. This month, our gallery features two more of his magnificent pieces!
Gary still makes his offer for March
for a: Special Offer for
Delaware Mineralogical Society Members.
Jamie Huddleston of Letterink Art, Belmont,
Michigan, has offered a take on sculpting petwood.
Pure and simple, the approach here is to take the wood, as it is is found, then bring out
character in rounded shapes. Here are a few examles below:
Now, we turn our attention to
As we know from
last month's excursion, petrified wood is available as rough as agate,
jasper, quartz, chalcedony, opal, calcium carbonate, and pyrite. We can form it into
shape, and can highly polish the quartz-like wood. Three of the best shapes to
its inherent grainy beauty are: slabs, cabs, and spheres. If you are wondering about
intricacies of making the perfect sphere, look at the simplified diagram in step below:
A good website that better demonstrates this
technique can be found in the United Kingdom.
The sphere-makers at Mineral &
Rock in the UK use a combination of diamond and silicon carbide
tools to cut the rock. It is very labor-intensive, compared to making
cabachons. The symmetry is
extremely important to achieve. Otherwise, your sphere will look misshapen, even to
The author of
their website explains sphere-making in eight steps. In summary, these are:
(1.) carefully choose your rough, (2.) cut it into a cube, (3.) cut cube several times to
octagon on all sides, (4.) use grindstone to round of all edges, (5.) to the lathe with a
cutting tool, (6.) Reduce over several polishing grits in lathe with wooden cups, (7.)
wheel for final sheen, and (8.) three days in a tumbler.[lvii]
To see the
results of work from lapidaries around the world shown on one website, visit the
SpheresToYou.com Petrified Wood Pages. Owner Jackie Lapin offers thousands for sale
California showroom. She has sizes from the mibster's marbles and up. Jackie
was so kind as to
allow us to borrow many of her sphere images for our MOTM articles. She has also
granted us a
very informative interview:
you choose to get into spheres? And, how did it grow?
||I went to a gem and mineral show because I love jewelry and gems.
I cute little snowflake obsidian sphere caught my eye and then a pampas onyx (glassy olive
green and mustard color). They just called to me, so to speak. By the next show I was
hooked. My personal collection now runs to 600 pieces. I assumed that since I was this
addicted there would be others like me and I might be able to share my love for spheres.
That's how Sphere's To You came to be.
created ATMOSPHERE, The Society for the Appreciation of Spheres. Would you tell us a
little more about it?
||As we began to develop our market and gather sphere enthusiasts, we realized that
people who were interested in spheres wanted to know more about spheres and would enjoy
the benefits of a Club Membership. So we created an organization that would entitle them
to a newsletter and a discount for their initial purchases. In the early years we also
held an annual meeting in Tucson at the time of the show so members could meet, but many
of our members could not coordinate their schedules. Thus today, our primary connection is
the newsletter. People expressed a desire to know more and so we began the newsletter, at
first by mail and now exclusively online and by email. Folks can register for membership
on our site.
newsletter, The Spherical World, offers articles on and tips on
care for ones sphere collection. What possible ideas could we look forward to in
(By the way, Congratulations on ten years of publication!)
||Thanks for your nice words. This newsletter comes out twice yearly. Care is
covered in many of the back issues that are available on the site. Mostly today, you'll
learn about the newest materials being sphered, what types of spheres come from different
regions of the world, what's hot and new in the sphere world, profiles of interesting
people, collecting tips, etc.
what percentage of members, would you say, collect Petrified Wood spheres?
5% collect exclusively petrified wood, but many people include petrified wood in a larger
are some of the most popular diameter sizes folks collect?
2-3.5 inches on average...but we have up to 6 inches in petrified wood and other materials
your favorite specimen in your collection today?
||There are so many...it's like asking a mother which is her favorite child! But as
a group I love the condor agates, the vast variety and color of ocean jasper, a whole
spectrum of agates (mexican lace, brazilian, moss agate and more). I love clear quartz
rutilated with gold rutile and all kinds of other colored rutile (iron/red, diosite/green,
black tourmaline/black, etc) . Geodes with brilliantly colored druzy--my most recent has a
coral color. And then there are the fabulous speciality pieces, Australian, Oregon and
Canadian Opals; starred-garnets and rose quartz; fiery red sphalerite; gem stone spheres
of blue topaz, rubellite, emerald and Ukrainian aquamarine.
know of anyone who chooses to employ their spheres to play games with as
are also the leading seller of natural mineral marbles in the world--everything from .25
inches up to 1.25. We have lots of call for marbles, and a select group that wants to get
"aggies" for marble play. These often are grandfather's wanting to share their
youthful experience with their grandchildren.
have a showroom in southern California. How many spheres might we see today, if we came
||Probably 1000-1500 are on display, but we have more then 8,500 in the inventory
(much of it in labeled boxes). So a good thing to do is look on the site before you come
and if what you want isn't out where you can see it, we'll pull it out of the boxes when
you get here.
impressed with your extensive online offers of Petrified Wood Spheres.
||Thanks! We work to find the greatest variety and most beautiful spheres of any
type in the world. Over the past 15 years, we've come to develop a fair knowledge of what
is available and how to keep our stock interesting to petrified wood collectors.
knowledge on the subject inspires me to look more into the specialty hobby of collecting
and making them. Have you considered writing a book on spheres?
there is one already in development by the man who has the world's largest collection, so
no need for me to duplicate it. He's doing it in his leisure time, so I couldn't say when
it will be out, but I know that Jeff Scovil, the best photographer in the mineral world is
doing the photography.
there anything else you would like to share with our readers about the joy of sphere
||Spherestoyou.com has been a labor of
love for me throughout the years. There is something so lovely about having a symmetrical
symbol of earth's beauty in your hands or in your vision. We welcome visitors to share our
passion and to come our site and our showroom if they are in California. Jeff Donovan, who
handles customer and collector relations, is a great resource on just about everything in
the inventory, and can be especially helpful to people who are looking into the
metaphysical or energy value of a particular stone. Don't hesitate to give him a call
(818) 991 5143. Thanks for inviting me to share my love and enjoyment of spheres. Sphere's
To You! Jackie
you, Jackie, for sharing with us today.
University of California, Berkeley, Museum
Botanical Society of America (BSA)
INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION of
PALYNOLOGICAL SOCIETIES (PALYNOS)
University of Arizona Palynology Site
The Cycad Society
Hunting For Fossil Cycads in
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Western Interior Paleontological Society
UC Berkeleys Geologic Time
forest of Lesvos - Protected Natural Monument