Lepidodendron dawsonii: functional groups and pyrolysates of compression and fossilized-cuticle (Late Asturian, Canada)

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Erwin L. Zodrow
Maria Mastalerz
Robert Helleur


Lepidodendron dawsonii BELL 1938 is an endemic species of Late Asturian age in the Canadian Sydney Coalfield, with conspicuous elongate leaf cushions. The study specimen, 35 cm long and 10 cm wide, represents a dichotomous bough from the tree crown in which the inner part of one side is black and compression-preserved, whereas the one in contact with the entombing rock matrix is dark-amber in colour and fossilized-cuticle preserved. Only stomatal pits and cuticular details are preserved. Comparison of these preservation states, based on Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometry, and flash pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectroscopy (Py-GC/MS), demonstrate sufficient differences in chemistry to be able to link the two preservation states with differing pathways of organic matter transformation (diagenesis). The aliphatic-hydrocarbon chains of the cuticles are comparatively shorter and more branched than the longer chains of the compressions. Py-GC/MS results support the presence of hydrocarbon markers of plant cuticles. The high abundances of C1 and -C2 alkylphenols and C1 and -C2 alkylbenzenes in pyrolysates are likely derived from maturing lignin or lignin-like biomacromolecules. We suggest comparison of L. dawsonii’s cuticles with Lepidodendron coal macerals in Chinese Permian Leping coal, and with suberinite.


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Original Scientific Papers
Author Biography

Erwin L. Zodrow, Cape Breton University

Palaeobotanical Laboratory