Permian or Mesozoic stem with enigmatic structure
deutsche Version

enigmatic stemThis tiny stem cross-section of a woody plant shows a confusingly complex structure which might deter even curious people from trying to understand what they see. If it would hang in a gallery among absurd artworks, people would probably flock there and stand in silent contemplation.

Fig.1: Stem cross-section with narrow wood ring. Height of the section 25mm.

There is something in the chaos, not readily seen in Fig.1, which offers a connection to familiar notions: What looks like a mere darkened margin reveals quite different structures: The whole circumference is beset with a narrow seam of coniferous-type wood, more or less distinctly arranged as short "wood wedges" in some places (Fig.2), similar to those of some Upper Carboniferous conifer as seen in
Fossil Wood News 27. Not much of the pith has remained here but its wide cells exceeding 80Ám differ clearly from the much smaller cells of the wood. Same as with the mentioned conifer but less well seen here,
there are even smaller cells of about 20Ám at the very tips of the wood wedges.
wood wedges

Fig.2 (left):
Wood wedges with cells in radial files next to remains of central pith (dark), deformed fragment below. Detail of Fig.1, width 3.4mm.

enigmatic woody stem

With pith and wooden margin resembling those of a small conifer stem, the inner structure (Fig.1) is all the more enigmatic. The lack of symmetry may be due to partial decay and scatter of the components but one can hardly imagine how they should be re-arranged to make sense. So we are left with the option to have a look at the peculiar debris in Fig.3.

Fig.3 (right): Disarranged and deformed components of some elusive structure
formerly present inside the small stem of Fig.1. Width 11mm.

detail of small stem

Fig.4 (left): Detail of Fig.3 left (turned), same scale as Fig.2 but no wood-like cells seen. Width 3.4mm.

The components seem to consist of interconnecting branches, thus resembling a tissue with big elongate cells in some places, as in Fig.4 below. The combination of wood ring with something inside is found with seed ferns.
Some similarity between parts within this narrow stem and components of conducting strands of much larger Medullosa stellata [1] has been noticed [2]. Nevertheless, the present sample does not seem to fit in anywhere. Hence, no interpretation is proposed here.
Repeatedly found Tempskya in the same gravel pit might indicate a Mesozoic age
of this fossil but a Permian age cannot be excluded.
Sample: found by Mathias Aehlig, Coswig, in the gravel pit at Ottendorf-Okrilla, kept in the own collection under the label O-O 1.1.

H.-J. Weiss     2019
U. Dernbach, W.D. Tidwell: Secrets of Petrified Plants, D'ORO 2002, p.112.
Hans Steur, Ellecom: Private communication.
quartz crystal with wood inside
Fossil Wood News  32
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