Mihai's Paleobotany Chronicles


CNCSIS (NURC) project no. 978, 436/1.10.2007
Last update: September 14, 2016

Lower Jurassic terrestrial deposits of Romania are described within several geological units, in the South Carpathians and in the Apuseni Mountains. These deposits, especially those confined to the South Carpathians, record exceptional information related to Jurassic terrestrial ecosystems. Lower Jurassic terrestrial deposits and their associated floras and faunas are described within 25 main localities. These localities belong to the Getic Nappe (Resita, Holbav and Cristian basins), Danubian units (Sirinia, Presacina, Cerna-Jiu basins) in the South Carpathians, and to the Bihor Authochthonous, in Apuseni Mountains. The Romanian fossil continental floras, aged early Jurassic (Hettangian – Toarcian) are represented by compressions (foliage, stem, roots and reproductive structures, including in situ spores and pollen), permineralizations, and by dispersed pollen and spores. The compressions belong to pteridophytes and gymnosperms, and the permineralised woods are generally coniferalean or cycadalean. In situ spores, dispersed pollen and spores were briefly described and assigned to pteridophytes and gymnosperms. The floras are practically unknown up to this date, in spite of recent, modern researches after 1990, due to the systematic diversity of these floras. The terrestrial faunal fossils are represented by invertebrates, by footprints, tracks and vertebrate burrows, as well as by plant-animal interactions remains, at their turn being poorly understood and described. This project will reconstruct the Romanian terrestrial Jurassic ecosystems by investigating the floras and faunas from the following points of view: systematics & taxonomy, stratigraphy, paleoecology & coal genesis, paleobiogeography, sedimentary, geological heritage and paleoclimatic significance, in a wider paleobiogeographic context, in order to correlate the national data with the European, Greenlandic and Asian data. context paleobiogeografic mai larg, pentru a corela datele pe plan national cu cele din Europa, Groenlanda si Asia.

Basic ideas
1. Systematics, taxonomy, phytostratigraphy, paleoecology and paleophytogeography of Early Jurassic land plants of Romania.
2. Systematics, taxonomy, stratigraphy, paleoecology of Early Jurassic vertebrate and invertebrate terrestrial faunas of Romania.
3. Study of plant-animal interactions, as recorded in the fossil state.
4. Reconstruction of Early Jurassic terrestrial ecosystems of Romania and their paleobiogeographic & paleoclimatic conditions during the Early Jurassic (Liassic) time interval, also in European, Greenlandic and Asian context.
5. Sedimentology of Lower Jurassic deposits in Romania.
6. Studied basins: Resita, Holbav, Cristian, Sirinia, Presacina, Cerna-Jiu, Bihor.

1. Conf. Dr. Mihai E. Popa, University of Bucharest, Principal Investigator - paleobotany, sedimentology;
2. Prof. Dr. Nicolae Ticleanu, University of Bucharest, member - paleobotany, sedimentology. Deceased in 2009;
3. Lect.Dr. Zoltan Csiki, University of Bucharest, member - paleozoology, sedimentology;
4. Dr. Valentin Paraschiv - National Museum of Geology, Romanian Institute of Geology, Bucharest, member - paleobotany;
5. Milan Rascov - National Museum of Geology, Romanian Institute of Geology, Bucharest, member - paleobotany.

Objectives of the project
The project proposes 7 priorities for the study and reconstruction of Jurassic terrestrial ecosystems in Romania, to them being related the objectives (Point 12.1) and the actions planned to be undertaken. The priorities of the project are:
1. Identifying the species of flora and fauna from samples collected from the field (in the South Carpathians and in Apuseni Mountains) or from previous collections, using modern and nomenclatorially correct systematics.
2. Clarifying the nomenclatorial status of faunal and floral taxa, thorough the nomemclatorial revision of the main Jurassic genera and species of fossil fauna and flora, so that the collected or revised material is assigned to valid taxa.
3. Providing and detailing the flora and fauna taxa lists of the continental deposits, from fossil localities, outcrops and basins in general.
4. Clarifying the faunal and floral biozones characteristic for the Lower Jurassic in the studied continental deposits.
5. Clarifying the taphocoenoses, and of paleophytocoenoses related to the depositional system, of the coal generating associations and of the 3D distribution of taxa, 2D or 3D, when such analysis is possible for fossils in the sedimentary deposits, and the evaluation of continental paleobiocoenoses.
6. Evaluating the Early Jurassic paleoclimate in Romania and the correlation of paleoclimate data with data from Eurosinian context.
7. Clarifying the paleofloristic influences in the context of the European Province of the Eurosinian Region in the Early Jurassic, through identification of endemic species for the Romanian territory, of ubiquist elements and of characteristic elements of other floral or faunal provinces.

Related to these priorities, the project defines 9 objectives obtained through specific actions, reported each year to a new structural unit. In the first year, the objectives are related to the Getic Nappe basins (Resita, Pui-Hateg, Holbav, Cristian), in the second year, to the Danubian Units basins (Sirinia, Presacina, Cerna-Jiu), and in the third year, to the Apuseni Mountains (Suncuius). The objectives of the project, as they are introduced in Point 12.1 of the application, are the following:

1. Clarifying the systematics in paleobotany and paleozoology, and clearing of the taxonomical problems through the study of previous collections (each year, a new structural unit) and of previous literature.
2. Collecting of paleobotany, paleozoology and sedimentary material, for developing the primary data of these fields (each year, a new structural unit).
3. The synthesis of paleobotany, paleozoology, sedimentology, and the reconstruction of terrestrial Jurassic ecosystems in Romania (each year, a new structural unit).

From all these points of view, the proposed project is an original attempt through its objectives and its proposed methods, with a substantial scientific and highly international interesting background.

Methods of research
The methods used include field research methods and laboratory methods. The selected methods are chosen in connection with the project’s objectives, and they are used in the project in specific actions.

A. Field methods
1. Geological mapping, recording of primary sedimentological, paleozoological and paleobotanical data, drawing geological and facies maps, local and synthethic logs.
2. Sampling material for paleobotany, paleozoology and sedimentology, with a stratigraphic and depositional control, where such a control is possible in the field.

B. Laboratory methods
1. Cuticular analysis: oxidation of compressive material, izolating cuticles, the study of epidermal anatomy using an optical transmitted light microcsope;
2. Extracting in situ spores and pollen: extracting fertile material from reproductive structures, maceration, centrifugation, mounting of biological slides for study under transmitted light microscopy.
3. Macro- and microscopic digital photography, with binocular lens or with the transmitted light microscope.
4. Classical drawing or using a camera lucida.
5. Image processing for vectorial and bitmap images for paleontolgical or sedimentary material.
6. Mechanical processing of the paleozoological and paleobotanical samples by using mechanical means (needles and other means under classical or binocular lens).
7. Extracting cuticles or spores and pollen in bulk maceration: treating the bulk material with strong reagents for dissolving the rock matrix, isolating and concentrating the organic matter for study.
8. Developing reference, paleobotanical, paleozoological, sedimentological and heritage data bases.
9. Washing and sieving of sedimentary samples.
10. Thin sections of silicified woods and of petrological material.


1. Popa, M.E., 2009, Late Palaeozoic and Early Mesozoic continental formations of the Resita Basin, Bucharest University Press, 197 pp., Bucuresti.

Research papers in periodicals with impact factors (ISI):
1. Lindfors, M. S., Csiki, Z., Grigorescu, D., Friis, E.M., 2009. Preliminary account of plant mesofossils from the Maastrichtian Budurone microvertebrate site of the Hateg Basin, Romania. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, Elsevier, Amsterdam.

2. Pienkowski, G., Popa, M.E., Kedzior, A., 2009, Sauropod footprints in the Early Jurassic strata of the Southern Carpathians - first record of Jurassic dinosaur tracks in Romania and its palaeobiological and palaeogeographical significance, Geological Quarterly, Warsaw.

3. Steinthorsdottir, M., Bacon, K.L., Popa, M.E., Bochner, L., McElwain, J.C., Bennettitalean leaf cuticle fragments (here Anomozamites and Pterophyllum) can be used interchangeably in stomatal based palaeo-CO2 reconstructions, Palaeontology, Wiley. Submitted in 2009, accepted for publication.

4. Kedzior, A., Popa, M.E., 2103. Sedimentology of the terrestrial Steierdorf Formation in Anina, Colonia Ceha Quarry, South Carpathians, Romania, Acta Geologica Polonica.

5. Popa, M.E., Kvacek, J., Vasile, S., Csiki-Sava, Z., 2014. Maastrichtian monocotyledons of the Rusca Montana and Hateg basins, South Carpathians, Romania. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 210, 89-101.

6. Popa, M.E., 2014. Early Jurassic bennettitalean reproductive structures of Romania. Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments 94, 327-362.

7. Popa, M.E., Kvacek, J., Vasile, S., Csiki-Sava, Z., 2016. Maastrichtian dicotyledons of the Rusca Montana and Hateg basins, South Carpathians, Romania. Cretaceous Research 57, 699-712.

8. Csiki-Sava, Z., Kedzior, A., Pienkowski, G., Popa, M.E., 2016. Hettangian tetrapod burrows from the continental Steierdorf Formation at Anina, western Romania. Geological Quarterly.

Research papers recorded in international databases (BDI):
1. Popa, M.E., Meller, B., 2009, Review of Jurassic plants from the Anina (Steierdorf) coal-mining area, South Carpathians, in the collections of the Geological Survey of Austria, Jahrbuch der Geologischen Bundesanstalt, vol. 149 (4), Wien.

2. Popa, M.E., Kedzior, A., Fodolica, V., 2010, The Anina Geopark: preserving the geological heritage of the South Carpathians, Revue Roumaine de Geologie, Bucuresti.

3. Popa, M.E., Zaharia, A., 2011, Early Jurassic ovipositories on bennettitalean leaves from Romania, Acta Palaeontologica Romaniae, vol. 7, Cluj-Napoca.

4. Popa, M.E., 2011, Field and laboratory techniques in plant compressions: an integrated approach, Acta Palaeontologica Romaniae, vol. 7, Cluj-Napoca.

Other types of research papers:
1. Popa, M.E. and Kedzior, A., 2008, High resolution paleobotany and sedimentology of the Steierdorf Formation, Resita Basin, Contributions to the Annual scientific session "Ion Popescu-Voitesti", Cluj-Napoca.

2. Popa, M.E., Diaconu, F., 2010, Preliminary results on the paleobotanical collection of the Resita Banat Mountains Museum, Drobeta, Review of the Iron Gates Museum.

1. Popa, M.E., and Zaharia, A., 2009, Plant-insect interactions in the Lower Jurassic continental formations of the South Carpathians, Romania, 7th National Symposium of Palaeontology, Cluj-Napoca.

2. Popa, M.E. and Kedzior, A., 2009, Lower Jurassic continental formations of the South Carpathians, Romania, 8th IGCP 506 meeting in Bucharest, Romania, 30 august 2009.

3. Popa, M.E., 2009, Mesozoic paleontological heritage values in the Resita Basin, South Carpathians, Romania, First International Symposium of Palaeontology, Chaoyang, Liaoning, China.

4. Seghedi, A., Iancu, V., Popa, M.E., Rascov, M., Ghenciu, M., 2009, The Iron Gates Natural Park: Proposals For Geo-Tourism Related To Mining Activities, MAEGS symposium, Cluj-Napoca.

5. Popa, M.E. and Kedzior, A., 2008, Vertebrate burrows in the Lower Jurassic continental deposits of the Steierdorf Formation, Romania, IGCP 506 "Marine and Nonmarine Jurassic", Hammamet, Tunisia.

6. Popa, M.E., 2008, The Early Jurassic flora of the Sirinia Basin, South Carpathians, Romania, IOPC VIII, Bonn University, Bonn.

7. Kedzior, A. and Popa, M.E., 2008, The Lower Jurassic Steierdorf Formation, Resita Basin, SW Romania, European Coal Conference, Lvov, Ukraine.

8. Popa, M.E., McElwain, J.C., The genera Anomozamites and Pterophyllum (Cycadeoidales) of the Triassic-Jurassic Kap Stewart Formation in Jameson Land, Eastern Greenland, 10th European Paleobotanical-Palynological Conference, Budapest.

9. Popa, M.E., Zaharia, A., 2010, Plant-insect interactions in the Lower Jurassic continental formations of the South Carpathians, Romania, al 7-lea Simpozion National al Paleontologilor din Romania, Cluj-Napoca.

10. Kedzior, A., Popa, M.E., Pienkowski, G., 2010, Evidences of vertebrate activity recorded in the Lower Jurassic continental deposits of the Steierdorf Formation, SW Romania, Earth Sciences Frontiers, 17: 258-260, 8th International Jurassic Congress, Suining, China.

11. Pienkowski, G., Popa, M.E., Kedzior, A., 2010, Early Jurassic Sauropod Footprints of the Southern Carpathians, Romania: Palaeobiological and Palaeogeographical Significance, Earth Sciences Frontiers, 17:193-196, 8th International Jurassic Congress, Suining, China.

12. Popa, M. E., 2013, New data on Early Jurassic bennettite reproductive structures and their associated foliage of the Steierdorf Formation, Romania, Leiden University, The Netherlands.

1. Popa, M.E., 2009, Floral changes in continental formations in Romania and Greenland, Colorado Plateau Coring Project, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Master thesis:
1. Rascov, M., 2008, Ecosisteme terestre jurasic timpurii in Bazinul Resita, Panza Getica, 120pp, supervisor Conf.Dr. Mihai E. Popa.

Graduation diplomas:
1. Sandu M., 2009, Pteridofite fosile din Jurasicul inferior al Bazinului Sirinia, supervisor Conf.Dr. Mihai E. Popa.

2. Savescu B., 2009, Paleoecologia Bazinului Sirinia, supervisor Conf.Dr. Mihai E. Popa.

3. Zaharia A., 2009, Interactiuni plante insecte in Jurasicul inferior din Bazinul Sirinia, supervisor Conf.Dr. Mihai E. Popa.

4. Pirvu A., 2010, Petrografia carbunilor liasici de la Anina, supervisor Conf.Dr. Mihai E. Popa.