New skeletons in UCMP’s closet (cont.)

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Washington, D.C. with ~20,000 specimens. In comparison, the UCMP has a relatively small collection of 2,100+ leaves, but this is the first collection that is web accessible. With the help of Berkeley’s Digital Library Project, UCMP is providing high resolution leaf images linked not only to collection and geographic data, but which also feature a “zoom and pan” capability. This allows one to zoom in on any area of the leaf to see greater detail. In this close-up mode, many leaves show traces left by feeding insects and fungal infections and so the collection becomes of interest to entomologists as well as paleobotanists. Because many fungi and insects infect or feed on specific

Heteromeles leaf
At left, a leaf of Heteromeles (Toyon, Christmas berry) from Nevada that provided a meal to insects 16 million years ago. In the close-up at right, we can trace the path of a leaf miner, probably a moth larva. The larva started out near the margin, ate its way toward and through the midvein, and then doubled back through the midvein, ending up near where it started. Mines with long, narrow, winding galleries that terminate in a blotch are characteristic of some in the Lepidoptera group Nepticulidae. (photos by Diane Erwin)

host plants leaving behind distinct, taxon-specific traces, finding fossil leaves with similar structures can aid in identifying those leaves as well as the insects or fungi that caused them.
Our on-line cleared leaf collections also link to sites with more information about their classification (ITIS report), geographic distribution (National Plants Database), and additional web images (CalPhotos, Google Image Search). To learn more about the UCMP collection, leaf terminology, and use of leaf fossils to infer paleoclimate and paleoelevation visit the cleared leaf pages here. To learn more about examples of leaf mining fauna, visit here.

Closeup of Heteromeles leaf

August, 2003

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