Biodiversity in the Coal Age

Detail from diorama of Coal Age Joggins, featuring Arthropleura — the largest terrestrial invertebrate in Earth history — from the Joggins Fossil Centre, by Doug Henderson.

The fossil record at Joggins contains 195 species (and counting), offering the most comprehensive sampling of terrestrial life (life on land) in the Pennsylvanian Coal Age. This record includes the plant life which became the vast coal deposits for which this period of Earth's history is named, as well as invertebrate and vertebrate fauna from both the aquatic and terrestrial realm, all preserved within their ecological context.

The entire food chain of the terrestrial Coal Age ecosystem is represented at Joggins, from the primary producers (plants) that captured the energy of the sun, to decomposing detritivores (invertebrates) and ultimately to predatory carnivores (tetrapods).

The record of plant life is represented most notably by standing lycopsid trees that constituted the ecological framework of the wetlands.

The food chain of the Coal Age terrestrial ecosystem, fully represented in the fossil record of Joggins.
The food chain of the Coal Age terrestrial ecosystem, fully represented in the fossil record of Joggins
Lycopsid tree in situ
Lycopsid tree preserved in standing position in the cliffs.
Tree ilustration
Reconstructed lycopsid trees (from DiMichele and DeMaris, 1987)
Published: 2016-05-02