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Carboniferous Period (Mississippian and Pennsylvanian)--Rise of the Reptiles

Carboniferous Forests. R.E. Taggard, Michigan State University. Good, non-technical summary of plant and animal life in the Carboniferous coal swamps of North America.  Lots of pictures.

The Carboniferous. University of California, Berkeley.  Short, non-technical description of life during the Carboniferous Period. Choose from stratigraphy, ancient life, localities, and tectonics for more information.

Carboniferous. Palaeos.  Summaries of the geology, stratigraphy, climate, and life of the Carboniferous (Mississippian and Pennsylvanian). Slightly more technical than the Berkeley site.

New Fossil: Link Between Fish and Land Animals? Bijal Trivedi, National Geographic News. Short article with pictures of the discovery of a fossil amphibian, Pederpes , which had feet for walking on land. This Early Mississipppian (348 to 344 mya) fossil had been found years before and misinterpreted as a fish but was reinterpreted in 2002. It provides insight into the transition between aquatic and terrestrial tetrapods (4-legged animals).

The Fish that was not a Fish. Hannah Hoag, Nature. Shorter article than above about the early amphibian Pederpes . Good close-up picture of the foot.

Out of the Swamps, Science News. News story concerning the discovery of possibly the oldest known reptile fossil, Cassineria, from Scotland. The fossil is estimated to be 340 million years old, from the lower Carboniferous (Mississippian) Period.

Tree Stump Animals, Fossils of Nova Scotia. Brief summary of the famous Hylonomus fossils found in fossil tree trunks of Nova Scotia. These upper Carboniferous (Pennsylvanian) reptiles are some of the oldest complete reptile fossils on Earth.

Creatures from the Black Lagoon, BBC News. News article that summarizes the famous Carboniferous fossils of East Kirkton, Scotland. Among these fossils is a reptile-like fossil, called "Lizzie," considered by many to be the oldest reptile fossil known. This fossil is from the lower Carboniferous (Mississippian) Period.

Transition from Amphibians to Amniotes (First Reptiles), Talk Origins Archives. FAQ answer that provides a short description of the main fossils and ideas concerning transitions between lineages.

Amniotes, Tree of Life Web Project. Technical description of amniote phylogeny (including reptiles). Site provides an introduction, description of characteristics, phylogenetic relationships, and references.

Mazon Creek Fossils. Illinois State Museum. The Mazon Creek fossils are world famous for their preservation of soft-bodied creatures that normally do not fossilize. Fossils are found in siderite (iron carbonate) concretions. This site discusses where these famous fossils are found, the Francis Creek Shale, the importance of these fossils, and includes many pictures of plants and animals.

At the museum exhibit site there is a good explanation of how the fossils formed and many links to reconstructions of the animals and plants found at Mazon Creek.

Mazon Creek, Illinois. University of California, Berkeley. Description of the Mazon Creek fossil site and the excellent preservation of soft-bodied creatures including the strange Tully monster.

Illinois State Fossil-The Tullymonsterum gregarium . Geobit 5, Illinois State Geological Survey. Description of the strange Tully monster, with pictures. Found in the Mazon Creek area.

Plant Fossils of West Virginia. Monte Hieb and Harrison Hieb. Good site for identifying and understanding Carboniferous plant fossils from West Virginia that applies to the plant fossils from the coal measures of Kentucky and the eastern United States.  Provides short articles about the "Coal Age" including information about climate, tectonics, sea level change, and many reconstructions of the original plants. The diagrams of plants are particularly useful for showing how different fossils are really different parts (leaves, stems, roots, etc.) of the same plant.


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