Unlocking the secrets of outback Queensland’s ancient forests

1 Jul 2014


Tamara Fletcher holding a cut section of a piece of Protophyllocladoxylon owensii. Growth rings and colour banding caused by varying amounts of iron are clearly visible. Photograph © Steve Salisbury.

The rolling downs of central-western Queensland are littered with the remnants of a bygone world.  With luck and a good eye, one might find the sun-bleached bones of a long-dead giant dinosaur or a diminutive crocodilian.

But far and a way the most commonly encountered fossils are those of plants.  Impressions of leaves from early flowering plants and rust-coloured pieces of silicified wood hint at the presence of ancient forests across what are now grassy plains.  

Palaeontologists from the Vertebrate Palaeontology and Biomechanics Lab at the The University of Queensland have determined that most of the fossil wood in central-western Queensland belongs to a new species: Protophyllocladoxylon owensii.  The species has been named in honour of the Mayor of Longreach Regional Shire, Joe Owens.

Read the full article at UQ News