Abstract

The history of plant fossil collecting in the Okanagan (Okanogan) Highlands of British Columbia and northeastern Washington is closely intertwined with the history of geological surveys and mining activities from the 1870s onward. The first descriptions of fossil plants from British Columbia were published in 1870–1920 by J.W. Dawson, G.M. Dawson, and D.P. Penhallow. In the United States, fossil leaves and fish were first recognized at Republic, Washington, by miners in the early 1900s. Many early workers considered these floras to be of Oligocene or Miocene age. C.A. Arnold described Canadian occurrences of conifers and Azolla in the 1950s. Palynological studies in the 1960s by L.V. Hills, G.E. Rouse, and others and those of fossil fish by M.V.H. Wilson in the 1970–1980s provided the framework for paleobotanical research at several key localities. Permineralized plants were first described from the Princeton chert in the 1970s by C.N. Miller, J.F. Basinger, and others, followed by R.A. Stockey and her students. W.C. Wehr and K.R. Johnson revitalized the study of fossils at Republic with the discovery of a diverse assemblage in 1977. In 1987, J.A. Wolfe and Wehr produced a United States Geological Survey monograph on Republic, and Wehr cofounded the Stonerose Interpretive Center as a venue for public collecting. Systematic studies of the Okanagan Highlands plants, as well as paleoecological and paleoclimate reconstructions from palynomorphs and leaf floras, continue to expand our understanding of this important Early Eocene assemblage.

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