Location: British Columbia, North America
Age: Middle Eocene (49 mya)
Canada has developed a reputation of epic proportions with regards to significant fossil discoveries. A variety of spectacular sites - providing a glimpse of what life was like millions of years ago - include the Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, eastern Canada; Fossil Cliffs of Joggins, Nova Scotia (Late Carboniferous non-marine biotas), and Vancouver Island (diverse faunal communities of the Upper Cretaceous), to name but a few.
The fossils of the Princeton Chert occur in interbedded cherts and coals, exposed along the east bank of the Similkameen River, approximately 8km south-east of Princeton, British Columbia (Figure 1; Stockey, 2001). Princeton Chert fossils have been known since the late 1960s, but have gained more recognition recently. This has mainly been due to their rare type of preservation (see Taphonomy). The chert layers range in thickness from 1 to 55 cm, and each layer is numbered during collection in the field so that plant occurrences can be recorded for each layer (Pigg and Stockey, 1996; Figure 2). The different layers contain differing assemblages of permineralised (formation of rock matrix around plant tissues) plant remains. Some layers contain mostly aquatic plants and others contain ferns, conifers and even palm remains (Erwin and Stockey, 1998).