Tarleton researcher uncovers fossil of new plant species
STEPHENVILLE — A previously unknown species of plant life has been discovered by Tarleton State University researcher Dr. Ryan Morgan and two former students.
Morgan and his team found a single fossilized leaf of the new species belonging to Cyclopteris, an extinct genus of seed ferns, in sandstone beds of the Placid Shale near Ranger in Eastland County.
The plant fossil is characteristic of the late Paleozoic Era.
Morgan, an associate professor in the university’s Department of Chemistry, Geosciences and Physics, published the discovery of Cyclopteris chevronii in the International Journal of Paleobiology and Paleontology.
“Descriptions from fragmentary and partial fossil material are increasingly rare but are important to cataloging important sites and morphologies,” he wrote. “Many fossil plant genera and species are described from partial fossils, prompting further research and improvement of our understanding of plant taxonomy and evolution.”
According to Morgan, at the time the fossil was deposited North Central Texas was located on the coast in an ideal environment for lowland plant species.