By Steven L. Stephenson
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Extra resources for A Natural History of the Central Appalachians
When the sediment hardened into rock, the resulting fossil had the shape SEED FERNS The plant fossils that we collected near Fairfax Stone on the visit mentioned at the beginning of chapter 1 included numerous examples of fern-like leaves, and based on appearance alone these would have been identified as ferns (fig. 13). In fact these fossils were considered ferns until 1904, when Francis Oliver and Dukinfield Scott, two British paleobotanists, finally established that some of the fern-like leaves were associated with primitive seeds that obviously belonged to the same plant.
For example, red cedar and various species of pine are found at low to mid-elevations throughout the Central Appalachians, while such species as mountain ash and yellow birch are common associates of the gymnosperms that are found at higher elevations in the Central Appalachians. Because the climate of much of Japan and central China is similar to that of eastern North America, the forests present in the two regions on continents separated by thousands of miles are very similar in appearance. Moreover, many of the associated plants are closely related species of the same genus or closely related genera of the same family (fig.
For example, there are the towns of Wolf Creek and Elk City in West Virginia and streams named Wolf Creek and Buffalo River in Virginia. At the beginning of the twentieth century only the white-tailed deer, black bear, and mountain lion remained, and the last had been reduced to very low numbers. More than a century later, the deer and bear are still common, but the mountain lion is exceedingly rare if indeed it is still present in the region. There are occasional “sightings”, but it is possible that among the animals observed are “exotic pets” that have been released into the wild.
A Natural History of the Central Appalachians by Steven L. Stephenson