Drs. Gandolfo and Hermsen have recently returned from a two-week trip to visit collections in Argentina. This is their report:

We arrived in Buenos Aires on October 19th with plans to continue on to Trelew the same evening. Unfortunately, our plans were disrupted by the Chilean volcano Puyehue, which was releasing an ash cloud that was causing flights to be cancelled. Ultimately, we opted to take Quebus!! (a bus from a long distance bus company) to Trelew and made the long drive in comfort, arriving Saturday, October 21st. While waiting for the time to take the bus, they visited the paleobotanical collections of the Museo de Historia Natural Bernardino Rivadavia in Buenos Aires. Thank you to the Paleobotanical curator Dr. Georgina Del Fueyo for receiving us with such short notice!

We worked in the collections of the Museo Paleontológico Edigio Feruglio (MEF) for about a week. Our main focus was on Late Cretaceous (ca. 65 million-year-old) material from the La Colonia Formation of Chubut Province, some of which we were involved in collecting in 2010. Of particular interest were the ferns, including the water ferns Marsilea and Regnellidium, as well as possible members of the Dicksoniaceae and Hymenophyllaceae (the filmy ferns). We will be working on this material with Dr. Rubén Cúneo of the MEF. Museum staff also prepared material of fossil Eucalyptus (the gum tree) for an ongoing project on the taxonomy of fossil material of the genus from the early Eocene (ca. 52 million-year-old) Laguna del Hunco flora, on which we are collaborating with Dr. María del Carmen Zamaloa of the Universidad de Buenos Aires.

Photo on left: the fern Regnellidium, photo on right: fluorescence image of a filmy fern.

Following our vist to the MEF, we returned to Buenos Aires, where Dr. Gandolfo spent time working with Dr. Zamaloa on the Monocot-Atol project at the Universidad de Buenos Aires and gave a seminar titled “Paleobotany in the era of Molecular Biology and a brief introduction to the Plant Ontology”.

Dr. Hermsen traveled to La Plata to visit the paleobotanical collections of the Museo de La Plata, particularly historic collections from the Laguna del Hunco flora. Her purpose in doing this was to attempt to locate additional angiosperm reproductive material that might be included in future publications on the Laguna del Hunco flora. She was later joined by Dr. Gandolfo, who gave a lecture entitled “The value of fossils in elucidating the evolutionary history of the angiosperms” which generated some lively discussion.

We would like to thank all of the museum staff at La Plata for the hospitality during our visit, with particular thanks to our host in La Plata, Dr. Ari Iglesias, and Mr. Adolfo Zúñiga, Curator, for their assistance in accessing the paleobotanical collections.

Dr. Gandolfo and Dr. Hermsen visit colleagues at the Museo de La Plata. Photo courtesy of Ari Iglesias. Pictured, L to R: Dr. Analía Artabe, Dr. María Gandolfo, Dr. Alba Zamuner, Dr. Leandro Martínez, Ms. Ana Julia Sagasti, Dr. Ari Iglesias, Dr. Josefina Bodnar, Mr. Adolfo Zúñiga, Dr. Elizabeth Hermsen.