Wood has evolved multiple times in plants. So what makes it wood? True wood consists of special cells called secondary xylem which help a plant transport primarily water though ions and other compounds may be dissolved as well. Other types of xylem (though not wood) include protoxylem and metaxylem. If preserved, characters (or specific features) such as resin cells, resin canals, rays and vessels help us identify fossil wood. Fossil wood is not always petrified. We can also find it as permineralized, actual remnants or even compression impression though the last one on the list can be harder to ID. What is your favorite piece of petrified wood? Talk about it and share below!
Hi, @mackenzie-smith! I recently toured the paleobotany collections here at the KU Natural History Museum. Do you know Rudy Serbet? He showed me lots of sample of permineralized wood (as well as fern impressions) from the Pennsylvanian of Kansas.
Slightly unrelated, but still interesting: Rudy mentioned an acid peel technique on coal balls as a method that paleobotanists use to better image the plants preserved inside the coal ball. Have you ever done this technique?
Yes! I know Rudy! I also know Brian Atkinson who just started his post-doc there.
Yes again. I have used this method during my undergrad research and have taught this method in Paleobiology at Oregon State. It is one of the cornerstone methods of paleobotany. I’m glad you mentioned it because I think it would make a great idea for an infographic. The method can be used for any permineralized plant remains and is actually how we study wood preserved in calcareous sediments. HCl is the acid used for the calcareous concretions. While HF can be used for silica based fossils, thin sectioning is generally a safer method.