Featured 3 Apr 1998 Image
Fossilised cone of Araucaria sp. tree
Fossil cone. A fossilised cone from a tree of the genus Araucaria, members of which still survive today. The individual seeds can clearly be seen around the core of the cone. Conifers such as this evolved around 250 million years ago, and flourished in the Mesozoic era. Their supremacy lasted until the fruit-bearing trees developed around 75 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous period. The surviving members include the monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana), a popular decorative tree in larger gardens due to its distinctive form. The trees are native to the Southern Hemisphere (apart from Africa), and may be considered "living fossils"
© VOLKER STEGER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY