Glossopteris (Ancient Greek: γλώσσα glossa, meaning "tongue", because the leaves were tongue-shaped, and pteris, Greek for fern or feathery) is the largest and best-known genus of the extinct order of seed ferns known as Glossopteridales. Glossopteris was a woody, seed-bearing shrub or tree, some apparently reaching 30 meters tall. They had a softwood interior that resembles conifers of the family Araucariaceae. Seeds were borne on one side of variably branched or fused structures and microsporangia containing pollen were borne in clusters at the tips of slender filaments. Both the seed- and pollen-bearing organs were partially fused (adnate) to the leaves, or, in some cases, possibly positioned in the axils of leaves. The Glossopteridales arose in the Southern Hemisphere around the beginning of the Permian Period (298.9 million years ago), but became extinct during the end-Permian mass extinction. Their distribution across several, now detached, landmasses led to the conclusion, that the southern continents were once amalgamated into a single supercontinent—Pangea. These plants went on to become the dominant elements of the southern flora through the rest of the Permian but disappeared in almost all places at the end of the Permian (251.902 million years ago).
Size: 23,5 x 22,5 cm
Age: upper Permian, ca. 275 million years
Location: Illawarra coal deposit, Dunedoo, New South Wales, Australia