Tarleton Researcher Uncovers Fossil of New Plant Species




Tuesday, November 17, 2020

STEPHENVILLE, Texas — A previously unknown species of plant life has been discovered by Tarleton State University researcher Dr. Ryan Morgan and two former students.

Morgan and his team found a single fossilized leaf of the new species belonging to Cyclopteris, an extinct genus of seed ferns, in sandstone beds of the Placid Shale near Ranger in Eastland County.

The plant fossil is characteristic of the late Paleozoic Era.

Morgan, an Associate Professor in the university’s Department of Chemistry, Geosciences and Physics, published the discovery of Cyclopteris chevronii [MDRF1] [RP2] [RP3] in the International Journal of Paleobiology and Paleontology.

“Descriptions from fragmentary and partial fossil material are increasingly rare but are important to cataloging important sites and morphologies,” he wrote. “Many fossil plant genera and species are described from partial fossils, prompting further research and improvement of our understanding of plant taxonomy and evolution.”

According to Morgan, at the time the fossil was deposited North Central Texas was located on the coast in an ideal environment for lowland plant species.

Tarleton, founding member of The Texas A&M University System, provides a student-focused, value-driven education marked by academic innovation and a dedication to transform today’s scholars into tomorrow’s leaders. It offers degree programs to more than 14,000 students at Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Midlothian, RELLIS Academic Alliance in Bryan, and online, emphasizing real-world learning experiences that address societal needs while maintaining its core values of tradition, integrity, civility, excellence, leadership and service.

Contact: Phil Riddle
[email protected]

A founding member of The Texas A&M System, Tarleton State is breaking records — in enrollment, research, scholarship, athletics, philanthropy and engagement — while transforming the lives of more than 16,000 students in Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Bryan and online. True to Tarleton’s values of excellence, integrity and respect, academic programs emphasize real world learning and address regional, state and national needs.