Late Cretaceous Conifer Woods of Terlingua Ranch, Brewster County, Texas
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Terlingua Ranch, in southern Brewster County, Texas, is a nearly 100,000 hectare property located between Big Bend National Park on the east, Big Bend Ranch State Park on the west, and the entrance to the Christmas Mountains. The southeastern portion of the ranch contains an abundance of fossilized conifer wood specimens occurring as logs ranging from 1.6 m in diameter and 15 m in length to much smaller logs and pieces of float. Most of these fossils occur in strata belonging to the Upper Cretaceous (Campanian) Aguja Formation (83–72 mya). Anatomical details of the fossil conifer specimens from Terlingua Ranch were analyzed by comparing wood anatomical features of the fossil specimens with a database compiled by examining the structure of extant conifer woods and through the use of published keys for fossil conifer wood identification. Three different fossil wood types were identified from Terlingua Ranch: a cupressoid/ podocarpoid wood type, a Cupressinoxylon wood type, and the first definitive report of a Taxodioxylon wood type from the southern portion of the western interior. These results are compared to other studies of fossilized woods from the Upper Cretaceous of the Western Interior of North America.