RUI: Antarctic Paleobotany: Permian Floral Characteristics in a Sedimentary Setting
This project will involve examination of Glossopteridales, fossil plants from Upper Permian deposits, in samples from the central Transantarctic Mountains and Southern Victoria Land, Antarctica. The glossopterids are an important fossil group because they are possible ancestors to the flowering plants. Permian sedimentary rocks (295-270 Ma before present) are important because they record a time of rapid biotic change, as the Late Paleozoic Age ended and the Mesozoic greenhouse environment began. The proposed research will rely entirely on specimens collected during recent field excursions to the central Transantarctic Mountains (CTM; 2010?2011) and southern Victoria Land (SVL; 2012?2013). Only a few of the specimens have been studied, but already have yielded anatomically well-preserved glossopterids with a complete pollen cone, which has never been found before. Additionally, several seed-bearing structures, which have never before been observed in Antarctica, have been found in both CTM and SVL. The project will allow comparison of whole-plant fossil glossopterids from the CTM with other paleo-latitudes, and will document the floral diversity within and between two depositional basins (CTM & SVL) during a time of global change, with the overall goal of linking environmental changes with fossil morphology.
The Broader Impacts of this project will include mentoring undergraduates in research projects, at an institution with a substantial minority enrollment. Public outreach will focus on involving middle/high school students through the ?Expanding Your Horizons? programs in Kansas and Missouri, as well as interactive presentations at schools in the Kansas City Area. The lead PI is an early-career scientist at an institution that serves minorities.
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