How the largest known anatomically preserved calamite was discovered in Chemnitz
 deutsche Version
Many a story could be told about how a combination of lucky incidences led to an unexpected discovery.
The story of the big calamite [1] is instructive with respect to both the fossil and the people involved. The steps leading to the publication had been reported by R. Kretzschmar on his website, from which several text passages are quoted here:

Galtier's Pitus in the Rotliegend of Saxony ?

In 2002, U. Dernbach issued his latest edition, with a contribution by J. Galtier [2] on a large fossil tree from the Carboniferous of Scotland. The tissue structure of the wood shown there is in some way similar to that of small samples of petrified wood recently found at the Kleinnaundorf /Burgk site, as noticed by H.-J. Weiss, who called it "the wood with the biggest pith rays in the Döhlen basin". The similarity becomes evident when comparing the pictures below with that of Pitus primaeva in the above-mentioned book.  [End of quotation]
calamite wood, Döhlen basin, Lower PermianSilicified wood resembling Pitus [2] and Arthropitys [1], tangential section with exceptionally wide secondary pith rays, seen here as cross-sections. Lower Permian, Döhlen basin, Saxony. Photograph:  Hagen Sahm, Dresden.
Width of the pictures 5mm (left) and 3.5mm (below).

                     Drawing of another part of the same sample.
                   calamite wood drawing
Sample: found in 2000 at the type locality of Scolecopteris between Kleinnaundorf and Burgk, kept in the own collection under the label Bu7/20.1.

The present sample is a 9cm wide fragment of a rounded boulder, the larger part of which was apparently not recovered from the excavated matter on the construction site in the Döhlen basin. The divergence of the pith rays on the available small part of the cross-section seems to indicate a stem diameter of about 50cm (which may be smaller if a slight deformation of the cross-section into elliptical shape is taken into account). The size of the pith ray cells is about the same as in [1].
[Quotation continued:] A small fragment of petrified wood found by the present author [R. Kretzschmar] in excavated matter from a construction site at Chemnitz-Hilbersdorf, Zeiss-Str. 14, showed the same features. Soon it became apparent that the fragment most probably belonged to a rather big tree trunk part recovered by fossil collectors in cooperation with the Museum für Naturkunde Chemnitz in 2002.  [End of quotation]

After referring to several facts from the calamite literature, 
Kretzschmar arrived at the following conclusion, with a supplement added later:
[Quotation continued:] The above-mentioned finds resembling Pitus wood are worth a detailed inspection since, in our opinion, they are clearly distinguished from the more “normal” Dadoxylon-type wood varieties. This might provide an opportunity to disclose the nature of the mysterious Pitus tree.
The subject has taken an unexpected turn: When R.
Rössler and J. Galtier inspected the large trunk part  ... on the occasion of a taphonomy workshop on Nov. 8th/9th, 2003,  they discovered wood wedges with the typical carinal voids only found in calamites and horsetails, and even a tiny central pith with cells preserved. Its diameter of about 50cm makes this trunk the largest well-preserved calamite ever seen. It will be scientifically investigated soon.
So it has turned out that the suspicion aroused by the peculiar wood structure of the splinter that the big trunk is something special has come true, although in another way than expected.
Something has been found out but one question still lingers around: Do the big pith rays found in Saxony all belong to the giant calamite or is there Pitus among them after all ?  [End of quotation]
The latter question concerning wood with wide pith rays will probably not be answered soon. A related
contribution will be presented later on the present website.
The big chunk is pictured in [3] in-situ and after cutting.
The big calamite is not only interesting in itself but also reveals something about the relations between people engaged in palaeobotany:
In the publication [1], R.
Rössler acknowledges the help of lots of people, even mentioning the municipal firefighters. He does not mention R. Krettzschmar, who provided the decisive information leading to the discovery. If  Kretzschmar had not inspected the excavated matter after the tree trunk had been removed from the pit, if he had not found and closely looked at a small piece and guessed it might belong to the big one (which is not trivial with more small pieces of petrified wood lying around), and if he had not compared it with other uncommon wood types from the literature, the big calamite would have been stored away, misinterpreted as "dull" Dadoxylon since nobody had expected a calamite of this size and preservation, and it would not have been shown to Galtier for close inspection. The story of the steps towards the discovery from which the above quotations are taken had to be deleted on in 2011 as if to erase it from memory so that the impression develops that the discovery was made by Rössler alone.

H.-J. Weiss     2012

[1] R. Rössler, R. Noll: Sphenopsids of the Permian I: The largest known anatomically preserved calamite, an exceptional find
     from the petrified forest of Germany.  Rev. Palaeobot. Palyn. 140(2006), 145-62.
[2] J. Galtier: Pitus, a giant tree from Early Carboniferous. in: U. Dernbach, W.D. Tidwell: Secrets of Petrified Plants, D'ORO 2002.
[3] R. Rössler: Veröff. Museum für Naturkunde Chemnitz 26(2003),  (pictures on the inside of the cover).

quartz crystal with wood inside
Fossil Wood News 15

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