Cretaceous Ferns

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Abstract

THE author states that he approached the subject of pakeobotany as a layman whose earlier training had been mainly in physics and mathematics. He set himself to collect such fragmentary remains of fossil plants as the Lower Cretaceous rocks of his neighbourhood afforded, with the intention of making an intensive study of the several genera. This first instalment of his results deals mainly with a single genus of Mesozoic ferns, to which Dunker in 1846 gave the name Hausmannia. The fronds of this genus are characterised, in some species, by the possession of a hi-lobed lamina not unlike that of the leaves of the maiden-hair tree (Ginkgo biloba), while in other forms the lamina is divided into several linear lobes, and beats a reseniblance to the leaves of Baiera, an extinct genus of the Ginkgoales. It is, however, with the recent Indian and Malayan fern Dipteris that Hausmannia exhibits a more than superficial resemblance. Despite the unfavourable nature of the Quedlinburg rocks from the point of view of preservation of detail, Prof. Richter's industry has been rewarded by an accumulation of material which has enabled hint to add considerably to our knowledge of this well-defined genus of ferns. He has instituted, on what appear to be adequate grounds, a few new species. The flora of Quedlinburg is characterised by a preponderance of ferns, which are said to form 80 per cent. of the whole; no trace of Angiosperms has been found; Conifers and Cycads are rare; while ferns are represented by the Gleicheniaceas, Matonidium, Laccopteris, Clathropteris, Hausmannia, Weichselia, and a few fragments of the common Wealden species Onychiosis Mantelli. It would seem that in these fossils we have the relics of a vegetation which flourished in a situation favourable to ferns. Ferns undoubtedly played a more prominent part in the composition of Mesozoic floras than in the floras of the present, but it is unlikely that the Q uedlinburg flora as a whole was composed almost entirely of these plants to the exclusion of Lower Cretaceous Gymnosperms which are recorded from other localities.

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