I am thrilled to finally be able to share the spectacular Patagonian fossils I was fortunate to be able to work on for my Master's project! Our paper is now published in the American Journal of Botany in the May 2020 issue- here is the press release by Penn State!
We revised the taxonomic description of Araucaria pichileufensis Berry (1938) from Río Pichileufú in light of new material we collected in 2017, including an attached pollen cone! We confirmed the relationship of Araucaria pichileufensis to the Australasian Section Eutacta on the basis of the taxonomic characters and a combined evidence phylogenetic analysis. We also distinguished the Araucaria fossils from Laguna del Hunco to be a distinct Sect. Eutacta species, Araucaria huncoensis Rossetto-Harris. Having the opportunity to name my first fossil plant species was so amazing! Hopefully, the first of many! I have a new found love for conifer systematics! Our results show how this Australasian Araucaria lineage had a Gondwanan history, and also add to our understanding of the paleoclimate and paleoecology of these two diverse fossil floras.
Here are a few of my favorite photos of the field sites, the modern collections and forests I studied, and the fossils themselves! The entire fossil image library can be accessed and downloaded on FigShare!
I have also taken to Twitter to promote this work and branch out into another (the main) realm of science communication. Check out my tweets here. I am trying to make #Eutacta a thing! I also plan to highlight my identity as a new #phdmama and promote #mothersinscience!