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- almost 5 years ago
This is part five of the geology tour for the Life on Earth gallery. We are walking around the timeline and we’ve now got to the Carboniferous case. This is the age of the rocks around Leeds and all the coal mines in the Leeds area and in South Yorkshire as well, are dug into the rocks of this age. They are full of plant fossils because, finally now, we have life on land.
These are some of the earliest large forests on the planet and what we see in this case is a sample of the trunk of a gigantic clubmoss. Today clubmosses are very small plants: up to maybe twenty centimetres tall and they live on mountains and in swamps but back in the Carboniferous they reached forty or fifty metres tall and had this enormous crown with dense foliage, little leaves and cones on the end of the branches but the strange pattern that you see on the trunk is where it was covered with leaves as well. The entire surface would have been covered with little spikey leaves and the whole thing would have looked bit like a Monkey Puzzle tree today.
From evidence looking at the interior of the trunk, and how the structure of the plant worked, it now seems impossible for this to have lived for more than five years. The whole plant would have grown extremely quickly, and then fallen down. It would not have been a comfortably place to be walking!
The fifth section of a tour around the geology on display at Leeds City Museum. Curator Joe Botting takes you around the Life on Earth gallery.