PSW: The Coal Age

The Paleontological Society of Washington

Wednesday, February 18, 7:00 pm, in the Cooper room (E-207A), National Museum of Natural History, Constitutional Ave. entrance

The Coal Age — Reality, Imagination, the Search for Truth and Relevance

William DiMichele, Curator of Fossil Plants, NMNH

In this talk, we will travel back to the Carboniferous, or the “Coal Age as it is commonly called, often depicted as a vast steaming jungle of asparagus-like scale trees, giant horsetails and fern-like plants. In reality, the Carboniferous tropics were complex and dynamic, marked by broad environmental swings reflecting glacial-interglacial oscillations. Wetlands dominated the glacials transitioning to dryland forests during the interglacials, during which wetlands were reduced to refugia. Thus, the Carboniferous was both a strange and strangely familiar world with a different biota, different land masses, but climate patterns much like today. We will consider what all this means for our understanding of what this world might have looked like and what it can tell us about today.

Non-Smithsonian visitors will be escorted to the Cooper Room at 6:30 and 6:55 p.m. Society members will host the speaker for dinner at the Elephant & Castle (1201 Pennsylvania Ave.) prior to the meeting. Members may meet at the restaurant or inside the Constitutional Ave. entrance of the NMNH at 5:00 and walk to the restaurant as a group.

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