The Sun City Mineral Museum, located at the Sundial center, now has on display a piece of fossilized Lepidodendron Bark.
Also called a “scale tree” because its bark looks like scales of a reptile, the Lepidodendron grew as a straight pole until maturity, at which point the trees began growing branches. This tree went extinct about 300 million years ago.
Lepidodendron lived in the great “coal-age” forests before the time of the dinosaurs. Coal was produced as these forests decayed and there are four stages of coal formation: peat, lignite, bituminous and anthracite. Lignite produces the least amount of heat and the most amount of carbon dioxide and sulfur. Bituminous coal is relatively soft containing a tarlike substance called bitumen (asphalt). It is of higher quality than Lignite, but of poorer quality than Anthracite, and is the most abundant. Anthracite is hard and brittle, contains more carbon, produces the most heat and least CO2 and ash.
For more information about rocks, gems, minerals and fossils, visit the museum, open 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays.
This Lepidodendron fossil is at least 300 million years old. It was found on a farm in Illinois and donated to the museum.