Answer Monday

Last week on Fossil Friday, I told you nothing! Was it an animal, vegetable, or mineral? I asked. Was this even a fossil from a living creature or a drip of sloth snot? You had to tell me what genus it came from and whether we could find something similar today.

And it was….a needle from the genus Pinus (aka a pine needle). Though the specimen tag did not specify the specific species, the UCMP has an interesting blog post about the Monterey Pine which is found today too:

“For [USFS researcher Connie Millar’s] study of the Monterey Pine, Millar drew upon pollen evidence from sediment cores in the Santa Barbara Channel. According to Millar, the Monterey Pine was least abundant during full interglacials (i.e., the Holocene and previous interglacials), when oaks dominated coastal habitats, and was also uncommon during the cold periods of the glacials, when junipers dominated. Monterey Pine, as well as other coastal pines, increased dramatically in abundance and shifted in coastal location during climate periods intermediate between these extremes—that is, at times such as the end of the ice ages (climate warming), during ‘interstadial periods’ (warmish intervals within the ice ages), and at the end of interglacials (climate cooling)."

She also found that, "times of abundance of Monterey Pine correlated also with increases in charcoal abundances in the sediment cores, corroborating that fire plays an important role in dispersal and spread of Monterey Pines by opening cones and preparing seed beds.”

Thanks for playing this week’s Fossil Friday! Stay tuned for more fossil goodness.