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Just come back from a wet, windy, haily, wild-sea trip to the Catlins Coast. Always keeping my eyes out for possible dinosaur traces. There is only one Jurassic dinosaur bone known from New Zealand - but good potential in some places for footprints.

#jurassic
#dinosaurs
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The Jurassic fossil forest at Curio Bay in New Zealand is a well known tourist spot, as well as being of prime scientific importance. However, it's still not clear at what latitude it grew at. It may have been above or below the Polar Circle, but in any case, it was probably growing in latitudes that do not support forests now.
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I was about to throw out a lump of rock from the Jurassic Owaka Bridge locality, and decided to belt it with my hammer first. It split - and this is what appeared. It' a nice mass of Elatocladus conferta foliage.

#jurassic
#fossil
#conifer
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For one reason or another, research can just take ages. Back in 1979, me, high school student, found a Miocene fossil that I thought may have been a horsetail. Problem - horsetails (Equisetum) don't live in New Zealand or Australia today, and had no known fossil record for the previous 65 million years at least. During my PhD, I found better specimens, but still packed them away in the 'too hard' category. Then, another locality - at the other end of the South Island, turned up more of the things. I collaborated, and finally they are in press....
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A nice little specimen of Elatocladus conferta from the Jurassic of the southern coast of New Zealand. This was the dominant tree over most of the region then.
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We aren't really used to deciduous plants in New Zealand. We have them - but they grown in patches, not forming forests. All of our conifers are evergreen. But at least in the Jurassic, we may have had a deciduous conifer.
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I've been working on the Jurassic fossil forest at Curio Bay since I was at high school. In this post I look at some issues behind trying to work out how tall the trees were, based on the diameters of the tree stumps. This information is essential to create a profile of what the living forest would have looked like.
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A slab with a Miocene Eucalyptus leaf (left) and an Allocasuarina cone (lower right). Not the most convincing of the Eucalyptus leaves from this locality (there are much better, plus a good 'gumnut'), but this specimen has these two 'Australian' elements side by side. From Kawarau River, Manuherikia Group (now flooded below Lake Dunstan).
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A Miocene small-leaved Nothofagus from the Bannockburn Formation, Vinegar Hill, New Zealand. It shows a compound-toothed margin similar to some of the deciduous Nothofagus in Patagonia today.
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Phyllocladus is a really odd conifer that has flattened branches making it look like a broad-leaved angiosperm. Its fossils occur in the Miocene of the Manuherikia Group in New Zealand. An oddly similar plant, Protophyllocladus, occurs in the Cretaceous of the Northern Hemisphere.
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