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UCMP cosponsors Botany 2006 paleobotany field trip

Members of the group inspect a new fossil
Jeffrey Myers (right) shares another find. From left, Lenny Kouwenberg, Howard Schorn, Russell Shapiro (hidden), Xin Wang, and Myers.
UCMP's Diane Erwin and Howard Schorn ran a three-day excursion to several Tertiary fossil plant localities throughout the western slope of the northern Sierra. The field trip was part of the late July annual meeting of the Botanical Society of America, hosted by California State University, Chico and included a group of 18 professional paleobotanists, botanists, and geologists. The current debate about the timing of the northern Sierra Nevada uplift was among the trip's themes. Participants learned how the density of stomata on the fossil leaves of the Gold Lake oak species Quercus pseudolyrata is being used to reconstruct paleoelevation by determining paleo-CO2 levels. This work is providing further evidence that the northern Sierra Nevada did not undergo recent major uplift during the late Cenozoic, but rather has stood as high as it does today at least since the Cretaceous.

A complete Quercus pseudolyrata leaf from Gold Lake
A complete Quercus pseudolyrata leaf from Gold Lake. A rare find, it was collected by Jeffrey Myers and is now being studied by Lenny Kouwenberg.
Reflecting on the trip, Diane noted "We're still amazed at how well the trip went. There were no flat tires, none of our vehicles ran out of gas (though it was close a couple of times), weather was hot but no afternoon thunderstorms, no one suffered from the heat or high altitude, no motion sickness despite the winding roads traveled, traffic slowdowns were minimal, the food was excellent, no screw-up with the motel reservations, and new records of fossil taxa for some of the sites were found and kindly donated to the UCMP paleobotany collection, courtesy of the collectors. Can't beat that."

Diane and Howard were assisted by Jeffrey Myers (Western Oregon University, Monmouth OR), Anna Thompson (Feather River College, Quincy CA), Stephanie Stuart (UC Berkeley), Lenny Kouwenberg (Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago IL) and Lanny Fisk (Paleoresources Inc., Sacramento, CA). To read more about the field trip, the group, and the stops along the way,…and see lots of photos…, see Diane's research profile.

Photos by James McConnell.