Anatomically Preserved Cordaitalean Trees from the Pennsylvanian of Yangquan City, Shanxi Province, and their Implication for a Perhumid Climate in North China Block


Fifty-six cordaitalean trunks with anatomical features are discovered and described from the Moscovian (Pennsylvanian) Benxi Formation in Yangquan City, Shanxi Province, North China. They are allochthonously preserved in fluvial channel deposits and classified into two types based on the anatomy. The first type is characterized by a solid and heterocellular pith, endarch primary xylem and pycnoxylic secondary xylem with araucarian radial tracheidal pits and araucarioid cross-field pitting. The second type contains a septate pith and a pycnoxylic secondary xylem which is comparable to that of the first type. Primary xylem is absent in the second type. The diameter of these trunks ranges from 0.11 m to 0.55 m. The largest tree is estimated to be 29.96 m high using an allometric approach. The trunks represent the oldest and largest trees from the North China Block during the Pennsylvanian due to the absence of Silurian, Devonian, and Mississippian there. The fossil evidence shows that cordaitaleans were large arborescent trees growing on clastic substrates in the Cathaysia during the Pennsylvanian. Their occurrence from the upper Pennsylvanian in North China Block suggests that the previously reported diversity of cordaitaleans, which were estimated based on impressions, is a gross underestimate. The absence of growth rings in the trunks and co-occurrence of arborescent lycopsids in the same interval, together with coal seams and bauxite around the fossil-bearing horizons, indicate that the trees grew under perhumid tropical conditions.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Publication Status

In Press, Corrected Proof


National Science Foundation, Grant EAR 1714749

Keywords and Phrases

Anatomy; Carboniferous; Cathaysia; Fossil wood; Palaeoecology

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International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

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Publication Date

30 Jul 2021