"Royal Ferns look essentially the same now as they did during the Jurassic Period, and are therefore an excellent example of what we call a living fossil", said Vivi Vajda.
Professor Vajda has also dated the rocks surrounding the fossil by studying pollen and spores preserved in these rocks. Their analysis revealed that the lava flows are around 180 million years old, from the early Jurassic Period. These results have considerably refined previous radiometric dating conducted on nearby volcano cones. In addition, the research study shows that spores from royal ferns, as well as pollen from coniferous trees, including cypress and cycad, are found in large quantities in the volcanic rock. This is evidence of varied vegetation and a hot, humid climate at the time when the area was engulfed by a disastrous volcanic eruption.
The unique fern fossil was collected in the 1960s, near Korsard in central Skne, by farmer Gustav Andersson who donated the fossil to the Swedish Museum of Natural History. The fossil remained forgotten in the museum's collections for over 40 years before it came to the attention of the researchers. The research findings have now been published in the latest issue of the journal Science.
|Contact: Vivi Vajda|