Mihai's Paleobotany Chronicles


The Triassic-Jurassic flora of Jameson Land (NE Greenland) is one of the most important floras of this age in the world. This paleoflora has a high degree of preservation, as well as a high systematic diversity (see the revised systematic list - large HTML file). It is a typical compressive flora, with plants belonging to Bryophyta, Pteridophyta, Gymnospermophyta and Incertae sedis. The first paleobotanist who studied in detail the paleoflora of Jameson Land was Thomas M. Harris, a British paleobotanist who provided a substantial monograph (Harris, 1926, 1931, 1932a, b, 1935, 1937, 1946). He was followed by Raunsgaard K. Pedersen (1976, 1984), Pedersen and Lund (1980) and Pedersen et al. (1989), and by Jennifer McElwain (in McEwlain et al, 1999).

The first trip to Greenland (2002)
In 2002, a team funded by the National Geographic Society collected fossil plants from Jameson Land, more than 70 years after the first paleobotanical field trip of Thomas M. Harris. Our trip was amazing, Greenland proving to be a fascinating place, not only for paleobotany and for geology, but also for its beauty. The team members were Dr. Jennifer McElwain (the Field Museum, Chicago), Professor Finn Surlyk (University of Copenhagen, Geological Institute), Dr. Stephen Hesselbo (Oxford University), Matthew Haworth (Oxford University) and myself. We camped in Ranunkeldal and Astartekloeft, close to two exquisite, gigantic outcrops, and we could collect a great deal of fossil plants.

The 2002 team (wihout the photographer) in Ranunkeldal. From left to right: Matthew Haworth, Stephen Hesselbo, Jennifer McElwain and Finn Surlyk.

The second trip to Greenland (2004)
In 2004, a new paleobotanical and sedimentological field trip was organised in Jameson Land, funded by NASA, including this time Professor Finn Surlyk, Dr. Stephen Hesselbo, Dr. Ian Glasspool (the Field Museum), David Sunderlin (University of Chicago), and myself. Planning and organizing the field trip was supervised by Dr. Jennifer McElwain who could not join us in 2004. Rebekah Hines (the Field Museum) was also a key person for organizing both trips. The working areas were Kap Stewart (at Kap Stewart, Tancredia and Raevekloeft), and Primulaelv, both very rich in fossil plants. In spite of six days of rain, the trip was a great success.

The 2004 team in Kap Stewart. From left to right: myself, Finn Surlyk, Stephen Hesselbo, Ian Glasspool, David Sunderlin. In the background, to the right, the Tancredia hills.

A beautiful website at the Field Museum deals with more details regarding our field trips in Jameson Land, including site descriptions and photos, Recent and fossil flora, tools, daily life aspects, and much more.

Genus and species Position
Dictyophyllum exile Filicopsida/Filicales/Dipteridaceae
Equisetites laevis Sphenopsida/Equisetales/Equisetaceae
Equisetites muensterii Sphenopsida/Equisetales/Equisetaceae
Lepidopteris ottonis Pteridospermopsida/Peltaspemales/Peltaspermaceae
Ptilozamites nilssonii Pteridospermopsida/Corystospermales/Incertae sedis
Rhinipteris concinna Filicopsida/Marattiales/Marattiaceae
Sphenobaiera spectabilis Ginkgopsida/Ginkgoales/Incertae sedis
Stachyotaxus septentrionalis Coniferopsida/Coniferales/Palissyaceae

Harris, T.M., 1926. The Rhaetic flora of Scoresby Sound, East Greenland. Saertryk af Meddelelser on Gronland, LXVIII.

Harris, T.M., 1931. The fossil flora of Scoresby Sound, East Greenland. Part 1: Cryptogams (exclusive of Lycopodiales). Meddelelsler om Gronland, 2, Kobenhavn, 1-102 pp.

Harris, T.M., 1932a. The fossil flora of Scoresby Sound, East Greenland. Part 2: Description of seed plants Incertae sedis together with a discussion of certain cycadophyte cuticles. Meddelelser om Gronland, 85, Kobehavn, 1-112 pp.

Harris, T.M., 1932b. The fossil flora of Scoresby Sound, East Greenland. Part 3: Caytoniales and Bennettitales. Meddelelser om Gronland, 85, Kobenhavn, 1-133 pp.

Harris, T.M., 1935. The fossil flora of Scoresby Sound, East Greenland. Part 4: Ginkgoales, Coniferales, Lycopodiales and isolated fructifications. Meddelelser om Gronland, 112, Kobenhavn, 1-176 pp.

Harris, T.M., 1937. The fossil flora of Scoresby Sound, East Greenland. Part 5: Stratigraphic relations of the plant beds. Meddelelser om Gronland, 112, Kobenhavn, 1-114 pp.

Harris, T.M., 1946. Liassic and Rhaetic plants collected in 1936-1938 from East Greenland. Meddelelser om Gronland, 114, Kobenhavn, 1-36 pp.

McElwain, J.C., Beerling, D.J. and Woodward, F.I., 1999. Fossil Plants and Global Warming at the Triassic-Jurassic Boundary, Science, pp. 1386-1390.

Pedersen, R.K., 1976. Fossil floras of Greenland. In: Escher and Watt (Editors), Geology of Greenland. Geological Survery of Greenland, Copenhague, pp. 519-535.

Pedersen, R.K., 1984. Den fossile flora fra Scoresby Sund, Ostgronland. Fauna och flora, 79: 161-168.

Pedersen, R.K. and Lund, J., 1980. Palynology of the plant - bearing Rhaetian to Hettangian Kap Stewart Formation, Scoresby Sund, East Greenland. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 31: 1-69.

Pedersen, R.K., Crane, P.R. and Friis, E.M., 1989. The morphology and phylogenetic significance of Vardekloeftia Harris (Benettitales). Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 60(1989): 7-24.