Fossil Wood from the Bituminous Sands of Alberta


    SINCE 1913 the Mines Branch of the Department of Mines of Canada has been carrying out, under the direction of Mr. S. C. Ells, an extensive investigation of the bituminous sands (McMurray Tar Sands) of Northern Alberta. In a long communication to the Editor, dated Jan. 12, Mr. Ells directs attention to the presence of fossil wood in these sands. The discovery of fossil wood on the Ells River was first recorded by him in 1914, and later similar wood was obtained in shaft-sinking operations near McMurray (Report 632, Mines Branch, Dept. of Mines, Canada, p. 55, 1925). Many of these specimens and others found later were sent to Prof. I. W. Bailey at Harvard University, who reported that one of the fossil woods belongs to some gymnosperm, not found growing in North America at the present day, which closely resembles in its wood-structure Sciadopitys, the parasol pine of Japan. Another he refers to the conifer Keteleeria, which is found in China and Formosa at the present day; while a third appears to belong to the type of wood called Xenoxylon, which has been found in Jurassic rocks. These three types, which may be referred to the three form-genera of fossil woods, Phyllocladoxylon, Protopiceoxylon, and Xenoxylon, from other records appear to have a stratigraphical range from the Jurassic onwards.

    Rights and permissions

    Reprints and Permissions

    About this article

    Cite this article

    Fossil Wood from the Bituminous Sands of Alberta. Nature 127, 291 (1931).

    Download citation


    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.