Sphenozamites sp., Jurassic Period (205-145 million years ago)

Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale, USA

EMu user since 2003

marchThis striking fossil leaf comes from a member of an extinct order of seed plants known as the Bennettitales, which grew during the Mesozoic or Age of Dinosaurs.  These were precursors to the flowering plants.  There are about a dozen genera of leaves associated with this order, and Sphenozamites was a wide-ranging form which occurred throughout the Americas, as well as in Europe, China and Australia.  In life, crowns of densely arrayed Sphenozamites leaves topped stocky trunks pitted by the spirally arrayed leaf-scars of fallen leaves.  Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History has the largest collection of Bennettitales in the world.

Photograph by William J. Sacco.