Petrified Forests of Zealandia

Wednesday 10th of February 2021, 05:20 PM (3 months from now)

Contact: Matt Larcombe | matt.larcombe@otago.ac.nz | 027 919 9709

Petrified Forests of Zealandia. Speaker: Mathew Vanner, Department of Geology. This talk explores the history of Zealandia’s forest tree flora from a palaeontological perspective. Forests are our oldest and most persistent ecosystems and New Zealand, the Chathams and Auckland Islands have all yielded identifiable fossil wood from a range of ages and families. The fossils reveal an unbroken line of conifers, including Araucariaceae and Podocarpaceae, from the Jurassic (~170 Ma) to the Miocene (~10 Ma). New records of angiosperms, (Araliaceae, Myrtaceae, and Legumes), appear in the Eocene (~50 Ma) and other taxa (Casuarinaceae) disappear from New Zealand in the Miocene. Wood characters can be used to investigate palaeoclimate and show when key features developed in New Zealand lineages. My talk illustrates the exquisite preservation of fossil wood, the range of information that can be derived from wood features, and the history of many of the distinctive trees currently growing in New Zealand.