Geoscience Horizons

Press Release

Georgia College & State University

Oct. 31, 2003

CONTACTS: Binky Strickland
Public Relations Specialist
(478) 445-1934
Fax: (478) 445-6795

GC&SU professor reveals that tropical plants once grew in North Dakota

Milledgeville, GA -- You don't think of North Dakota as home to guavas, bananas or kiwi fruit, but research by Georgia College & State University professor Dr. Melanie DeVore shows that fossils in this site tell us that many tropical plant groups actually co-existed with more temperate plants.

DeVore is presenting her biological research on the Late Paleocene fossil plants found in central and western North Dakota. at the 115th annual meeting of the Geological Society of America Nov 2-5 in Seattle. Approximately 7,200 geoscientists are expected to attend the meeting, which will make it the largest in the society's history.

The Almont Flora of central North Dakota, and equivalent Beicegal Creek floras in western North Dakota are among the best preserved and most diverse assemblages of Late Paleocene fossil plants in the world. Fossils are preserved in siliceous shales that reveal both internal structure offruits and seeds and outer surface features of plant organs. The Almont and Beicegal Creek floras provide a snapshot of a pivotal moment of geologic time.

"The presence of bananas is particularly interesting because many plant biologists thought bananas originated in South America," said DeVore. "Now we know they originated in the Northern Hemisphere."

DeVore said the Almont Flora also contains the oldest record and most complete specimens of a particular family of aquatic plants. The aquatic plant is currently being reconstructed using material collected by Kathleen Pigg of Arizona State University and recent master of science graduate Malcolm Taylor.

At GC&SU, DeVore teaches environmental science and an aquatic and wetlands plants course. She also directs the Bahamas Study Abroad Program which emphasizes environmental science and global issues, as well as topics in ecology specifically for biology or geology students. She has taught biology and geology courses for the University System of Georgia's European Council London Study Abroad Program.

She is vice president of the Georgia Academy of Science and active in a number of national botanical organizations. She has presented and published papers on topics ranging from aquatic plant communities on San Salvador Island, Bahamas, to interaction of plants and insects in the fossil record.

DeVore has a bachelor of science degree in geology from the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh and her doctoral degree in plant biology from Ohio State University in Columbus. She joined the faculty at GC&SU in 1999. Prior to that, she was a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. She was also adjunct professor in the Department of Environmental Studies at the University of St. Thomas in Houston.

Georgia College & State University, located in Milledgeville, Ga., is Georgia's public liberal arts university.



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