Sabalites sp.

Sabalites sp.

Sabalites sp. is an extinct genus of palm trees that is worldwide known as a fossil from the Upper Cretaceous to the Miocene. Sabalites sp. has large palmate leaves in a radial arrangement like a fan with leaflets with marked ribs and partially welded at the base.

The images show the sandstone block with several fossils of Sabalites sp. from the south slope of Cal Torre, in the municipal district of Castellfollit del Boix (Bages). The rock has detached from an upper stratum and has slipped in the slope to stop displaying the side that has the palm leaf fossils. The rock is from continental origin, about 33.5 million years old in the transition between the Eocene and Oligocene epochs.

Fossil leaves are not frequent because continental environments are unlikely to provide right conditions for fossilization and because the flat shape of the leaves prevents from seeing them in the vertical crop of a rock stratum. Only new surfaces according to the layout of the rock that fractures and landslides -like this one-, large works removing the terrain -such as the recent construction of the road C-37 from Manresa to Igualada-, small exfoliations or natural shelter roofs may display fossil leaves sometimes.

Sabalites sp. witnesses the tropical landscape with palm forests that once upon a time, roughly 33,5 milions of years ago, dominated the terrain that is nowadays called district of Bages.

[photos Montserrat Porta and Jordi Badia]