Lepidodendron (giant clubmoss) fossil from the Carboniferous Period, found in the Coal Measures at Foxley, Tollcross. Now extinct, giant clubmosses could grow to over 40 metres, much taller than modern British trees such as oak or beech.
The Carboniferous Period lasted from 360 to 290 million years ago. At this time Scotland lay close to the equator and was part of a huge low-lying swampy coastal plain. Tropical rainforests grew in the swamps, ideally suited to the hot and humid weather conditions. When trees and vegetation died they fell into the swamps and rotted, eventually becoming peat. Over time, layers of peat were buried and through a process of compression changed into coal. The British Coal Measures were created in this way and contain twenty-one major coalfields. In central Scotland these include the Ayrshire Coalfield, the Lothians Coalfield and the Central Coalfield. If conditions were favourable, plant remains occasionally were fossilized, as with this example.
Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Museums
Ayrshire Coalfield, Carboniferous Period, Central Coalfield, Coal Measures, coalfields, fossils, giant clubmosses, Lepidodendron, Lothians Coalfield, peat, swamps, trees, tropical rainforests