Coal Swamp Fossils: The Robert Springfield Fossil Collection – new web exhibit

Calamites sp.

A branch of Calamites sp. that shows multiple spore producing cones of a sphenopsid.

A web version is now available of the current Crerar Library exhibit: Coal Swamp Fossils: The Robert Springfield Fossil Collection.  The physical exhibition, consisting of 16 fossils, is on view in the Crerar Library’s First Floor Reading Room for the 2014-2015 academic year.  It was curated by Benjamin Rhind, University of Chicago Laboratory Schools high school senior.

Exhibit Description: This collection of fossils was collected by Robert Springfield in mines in southern Tennessee and northern Alabama.  They contain many fossils from the Carboniferous Period, ranging from 330,000,000 -300,000,000 BCE.  The period was defined by the large deposits of coal beds that it left behind.  This massive amount of coal was because of the development of bark bearing trees and the fact that a lower sea level during this age left behind large lowland, swampy forests.  Plant life during the period was diverse, and although this collection of fossils contains several different genera and species, they all fit into one of three categories: sphenopsids, lycopods and pteridosperms.

The University of Chicago Library is grateful to the Springfield family for their gift of fossil specimens, which brings unique materials to the Library’s collections.  The Robert Springfield Fossil Collection is on loan from the Library’s Special Collections Research Center.


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