Falls River Co, South Dakota
The sub-tropical Cycad is distantly related to the palm and the fern, and is frequently mistaken for both because of its stout trunk, bisporangiate cone, and compound leaves. The order dates back to the Permian period 280 million years ago, and may even be 50 million years older than that. Many of today's surviving species face extinction (and drive an unlikely but vigorous smuggling trade), but during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods they were extremely common across the globe and provided a major food-source for any number of herbivorous and omnivorous dinosaurs. Commonly only the leaves of cycads are preserved, but this is an extremely rare fine and large example of the plant's floral bud cone; unearthed about 25 years ago in South Dakota. In 1922, the discovery of fossilized cycad beds in the area led to the establishment of Fossil Cycad National Monument. Unfortunately vandals had destroyed or stolen all of the fossils by the time the Monument was officially established; and while new fossils were eventually uncovered, the monument's status was eventually withdrawn in 1956 and turned over to the Bureau of Land Management. The present specimen was legally collected many decades ago and is exceedingly rare as such; this is a superb Cretaceous example of fine size and exceptional detail; there is wonderful texture and depth to the seed cavities, approximately 15½ x 13½ x 12½ inches overall.
Estimate: $7,500 - up.
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