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Fossil Plants Collections

The Paleobotany Collections at the Field Museum comprise ~88,000 catalogued hand specimens, palynological slides, SEM stubs and bulk samples that range in geologic age from the Precambrian to the Recent. Of these specimens, approximately 3,500 are either types, are figured or are referred. These "type specimens" are housed separately from the general collection and are organized by publication.

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The Paleobotany Collections at the Field Museum comprise ~88,000 catalogued hand specimens, palynological slides, SEM stubs and bulk samples that range in geologic age from the Precambrian to the Recent. Of these specimens, approximately 3,500 are either types, are figured or are referred. These "type specimens" are housed separately from the general collection and are organized by publication.

Most groups of plants are well represented in the Paleobotany Collections, though particular strengths include Pennsylvanian coal-forming floras from the Illinois Basin and early angiosperm mesofossils from the Atlantic Coastal Plain. 

The collections possess nearly worldwide coverage, but are strongest for North American localities. Within North America the collections are especially strong in Paleozoic material from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Texas and West Virginia. Areas of Mesozoic strength include Alaska, Georgia, Maryland, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia, while from the Cenozoic there are large collections from Colorado, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming. Especially significant localities or groups are outlined below:

Receptaculitids - A major collection of receptaculitid algae including many type specimens.

Beartooth Butte flora - A small but representative collection from the Early Devonian of Wyoming.

Stanley Cemetery flora - A range of specimens collected by J.M. Wood from this Early Pennsylvanian locality in Indiana.

Grand Ledge flora - A largely uncatalogued and understudied collection of early Middle Pennsylvanian fossils from a deltaic siltstone deposit in Michigan, collected and donated by Aureal T. Cross. The flora contains taxa such as Megalopteris, Ginkgophyllum, cordaite stems, leaves and seeds of several types, and other reproductive structures.

Mazon Creek flora - A large Middle Pennsylvanian collection of ~20,000 fossil plant specimens. The Mazon Creek assemblage was the subject of an NSF facilities grant that supported curatorial improvements to this extensive collection.

Pennsylvanian floras - A range of material from various localities including specimens identified by David White and Leo Lesquereuex.

Dunkard flora- An expansive collection of material from the latest Pennyslvanian/earliest Permian Dunkard Group collected by A.T. Cross.

The “Wolfcampian flora” - A large and stratigraphically important assemblage collected from the earliest Permian of the Wolfcampian type section in Texas by Karen and Murphy Quick.

Triassic-Jurassic of Greenland - A large collection of fossil plants, many with cuticle, from the Triassic-Jurassic boundary of Jamesonland in East Greenland. These specimens were collected using ecological survey techniques and are an important paleoecological resource.

Sanmiguelia - The type material (Cornet, 1986) from the Late Carnian, Upper Trujillo Formation of the Dockum Group in northwest Texas.

Conifers of Cerro Cuadrado - A small but taxonomically significant collection of araucarian cones, including many types, from the Jurassic of Argentina.

Cretaceous mesofossils - A major collection of charred and lignitic mesofossils from the Mid-Late Cretaceous of eastern North America, published on extensively by P.R. Crane, P.S. Herendeen, R. Lupia and others. These fossils, but most notably the angiosperms, provide a wealth of information about the morphology and anatomy of Cretaceous plants.

Late Cretaceous floras - An extensive and comprehensively documented collection of compression fossils from the Late Cretaceous of Utah and Wyoming gathered by A.T. Cross.

Paleocene floras - The Museum holds several heavily studied collections from the Paleocene of the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains. The bulk of this collection derives from field activities by Crane, Herendeen and others in North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming, where approximately 5,000 fossil plant specimens have been collected, primarily from two localities, Almont and Melville. The most significant of these localities is that near Almont, North Dakota, where a laterally restricted outcrop of shale belonging to the upper Paleocene Sentinel Butte Formation has yielded approximately 3,500 specimens, from which 65 types of fossil leaves, fruits, seeds and stems have been identified. This Paleocene flora is particularly significant both because it is diverse (as compared to other assemblages of similar age) and because many specimens are silicified and anatomically well-preserved.

Miocene Succor Creek flora - A.T. Cross has donated an extensive collection of compressed and permineralized fossils from Succor Creek in Oregon/Idaho. This collection is largely uncatalogued but has excellent locality data.

Evidence of plant-animal interactions - The Paleobotany Collections have been extensively studied for evidence of feeding traces and published specimens range in age from the Pennsylvanian to the Eocene.

Palynology - The Field Museum holds approximately 30,000 palynological slides, mainly from Venezuela, prepared by R.H. Tschudy plus an additional 35,000 prepared by A.T. Cross and students largely, but not exclusively, from the Cretaceous of North America.

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Collections

One of the greatest strengths of the paleobotanical collection is the Middle Pennsylvanian Mazon Creek flora from northern Illinois, a collection of about 20,000 fossil plant specimens predominantly preserved within sideritic concretions.
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