With a book chapter, Dino Day and an exhibit opening behind me, hopefully things will settle down a bit and I can actually work with some fossils; I was beginning to wonder if that was still part of my job!
We have two paleontology collection storage rooms here at VMNH, with a total of over 120 cases plus oversize shelves (there’s an additional room for unopened jackets). Invertebrate fossils (except insects) are stored in one room, while the other holds vertebrates, insects, and fossil plants. We actually have a fair bit of expansion room in the VP/Paleobotany cases, which we reserved in anticipation of additional collections from Carmel Church, Solite, and Wyoming. But as it turns out, a number of those cases are being filled from an unexpected source: Carboniferous plants.
Between Tom McLoughlin’s fantastic fossil plant donation last year, and two trips to the Boxley Quarry in Beckley, WV, we have quietly almost doubled the size of our paleobotany collection. Among the material Boxley delivered for Dino Day were numerous large specimens of lycopsids, including several Sigillaria like the one at the top. There were also several examples of Lepidodendron:
The great thing about these acquisitions is that Carboniferous plants were underrepresented in our collection; the bulk of our specimens were Triassic in age (due to our extensive collections from Solite and other Newark Supergroup localities). So we weren’t just increasing the size of our collection, but filling a significant gap as well.
We’re currently in the early stages of trying to organize and catalog all this material, and we anticipate more specimens from Boxley over the next year. Expect to hear more about this material in the coming months.