By Steven L. Stephenson
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Extra resources for A Natural History of the Central Appalachians
In what must have been a layer of exposed limestone just above the entrance to a cave, he pointed out the fossil of an ammonoid, a now extinct group of mollusks characterized by a tightly coiled shell that resembles a ram’s horn. ) This shell was at least a foot across, but ammonoids could be much larger, sometimes exceeding several feet. 6 million years of the earth’s history, is the most recent. The beginning of the Quaternary coincides with the onset of the last major interval of continental glaciation (the ice ages, as described in chapter 1).
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.
Although certain types of primitive conifers and conifer-like forms grew interspaced among the other tree-sized inhabitants of the coal swamp forests characteristic of wetter areas, other types 0 2 history of the flora and fauna 37 were found on drier, upland sites. The largest members of this assemblage of plants could attain a height of at least 150 feet, but others were shrub-like or best regarded as small trees. The former belonged to a group known as the cordaites (the common name is derived from the well-studied genus Cordaites), which were characterized by long, leathery strap-shaped leaves (at least three feet in some examples) that are quite unlike those of any modern conifer.