The University of Iowa
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
The Department of Biology

Faculty Information

Jeffry Schabilion

Jeffry Schabilion

Professor Emeritus
Ph.D., University of Kansas 1969
007 BBE
(319) 335-1319

Currently not taking any students.
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Paleobotany and Paleoecology

What was the nature of plant life some 280 to 300 million years ago during the Coal Age? What kinds of plants contributed to the formation of midwestern coals? In what environments did those plants grow? These are the broad research questions that we have sought to answer.

Most of our efforts have been directed to the collection and study of petrified plant fossils, especially those present in subsperical masses of calcium carbonate and pyrite, which are commonly referred to as coal balls. Study of the cellular structure preserved in such fossils has enabled us to deduce details of the morphology, growth processes, reproductive biology, and ecological adaptations of Coal Age plants. Such insights have been useful in making taxonomic assignments of newly discovered forms, in understanding their evolutionary relationships, and in making paleoecological interpretations. We also have used quantitative estimates of the plant remains in coal balls and of the pollen and spores in the associated coals to recognize several distinct plant assemblages that we believe represent natural associations or communities.

Another exciting and productive area of research has involved petrified cycadeoid gymnosperms from the late Mesozoic of South Dakota. Our studies of the type specimens of Cycadeoidea dacotensis and C. McBridei have provided information on the complex vascularization of their cones and insights into the evolutionary origins of those structures and of diversification within the cycadeoids.

Most recently we have been involved in studying plant fossils from early carboniferous deposits in Iowa and cuticle material from a Devonian age paper coal.

Selected Publications

Klug, C.R. and J.T. Schabilion, 1992. A Devonian Paper Coal (cutinite) in the Lithograph City Formation at Garrison, Iowa. Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources Guidebook Series
No. 16, pp. 147-159.

Schabilion, J.T., 1987. Stigmarian Root Fossils from the Upper St. Louis Formation. Geological Society
of Iowa Guidebook No. 46, pp. 41-43.

Schabilion, J.T. and M.A. Reihman, 1985. Petrified Neuropteris scheuschzeri Pinnules from the Middle Pennsylvanian of Iowa: A Paleoecological Interpretation Compte Rendu Congre International de Stratigraphie et de Geologie due Cabonifere. Vol. 5:3-12.

Mapes, G. and J.T. Schabilion, 1981. Vallitheca valentia GEN. ET. SP. NOV., Permineralized synangia from the Middle Pennsylvanian of Oklahoma. American Journal of Botany 68:(9)1231-1239.

Schabilion, J.T. and N.C. Brotzman, 1979. A tetrahedral Megaspore Arrangement in a Seed Fern Ovule of Pennsylvania Age. American Journal of Botany 66:(10)774-745.