Glossopteris reticulum
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YPM 11552 Glossopteris reticulum Dana Permian Period New South Wales, Australia

The New York Botanical Garden Collection

This seed fern from the coal formation represents an extinct glossopterid flora that once dominated the continent of Gondwana and the Indian peninsula duruing the Permian (approx. 285 to 245 million years ago). It is one of the oldest recorded specimens in American paleobotany and is illustrated in J.D. Dana’s 1849 Geology atlas (pl. 13, fig. 3).

This fossil specimen of Glossopteris reticulum Dana was collected by Dana in New South Wales, Australia, in 1839, while serving as a “Scientific” on the Wilkes Expedition, 1838–1842.

The 4-year voyage, commanded by Lt. Charles Wilkes and officially known as the U.S. South Seas Exploring Expedition, covered over 87,000 miles, chartered hundreds of Pacific Islands, mapped over 800 miles of the Oregon Territory’s coast and explored 1,500 miles of the Antarctica coast. Six small ships departed from Hampton Roads, Virginia, in August 1838. Two of these sailing ships, the Vincennes and the Peacock, arrived at Sydney Cove, a British colony of New South Wales, on November 29, 1839, where Dana spent 2 months conducting geological field studies and collecting many plant fossils.