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RE: Pine trees and paleoartists

> From: owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu [mailto:owner-DINOSAUR@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
> Brandon Pilcher
> Why is it that paleoartists almost always decorate their Mesozoic landscapes
> with pine trees? I have always found this cliche irritating and
> aesthetically unattractive. If I recall correctly, the Mesozoic Era had a
> warm, almost tropical climate (although the polar regions appear to have
> experienced more temperate conditions), and yet from looking at
> paleoartists' depictions, you would think it was like Alaska or Sweden with
> all those pine forests. Are there tropical species of pine trees that I
> don't know about, because in my opinion, pine trees look seriously out of
> place in a landscape that's supposed to be hot and muggy.

Even today, true pines (genus Pinus) run from the Arctic to Honduras and 
Hispanola in the western Hemisphere and Sumatra in the Old
World. While many people associate them with the tiaga, they are also found in 
temperate forests, desert scrub lands, and so on.
(Highest diversity of pines is in Mexico, I believe).

But paleoforest art also includes some of the other common conifer groups known 
to have been present in the Mesozoic (cypresses,
redwoods, araucarians, junipers, spruces, podocarps, yews), plus ginkgos and 
cycad and cycadeoid trees. It is only in the Late
Cretaceous that angiosperm trees show up in numbers.

> Also, what's with the volcanoes smoking in the background?

Mostly, because they are cool... :-)

But also, for a least the Late Cretaceous of western North America, they 
represent some bit of reality: various eruptions associated
with the Sevier and (especially) the Laramide orogenies of the Cordillera.

                Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
        Senior Lecturer, Vertebrate Paleontology
Department of Geology           Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland          College Park Scholars
        Mailing Address:
                Building 237, Room 1117
                College Park, MD  20742

Phone:  301-405-4084    Email:  tholtz@geol.umd.edu
Fax (Geol):  301-314-9661       Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-405-0796