Abstract

The oldest known fossil charcoal, to date, is herein reported from a Late Devonian (Famennian 2c) fluvial deposit in the Catskill Formation of north-central Pennsylvania. The charcoal was found in an abandoned channel setting in association with abundant well-preserved macrofossil plant remains of Archaeopteris, Rhacophyton, cormose lycopsids, Gillespiea, and cupulate and acupulate gymnosperms. Detailed anatomical preservation of the charcoal combined with its paleoecological setting suggests that in this landscape, mostly Rhacophyton burned, perhaps in association with an interpreted annual dry season. Alternating wet and dry seasons are indicated by the presence of paleovertisols. The fossil site where the charcoal was found also has yielded terrestrial arthropods, numerous fishes, and two early tetrapods.

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