Dr. Boglarka Erdei from the Hungarian Natural History Museum presented a lecture at MBC titled, “Fossil Cycads from the Cenozoic of the Northern Hemisphere.” The Hungarian Natural History Museum has 200 employees and a herbarium with 1.5 million herbarium sheets. The museum also contains a rare collection of wooden books made of tree trunks containing vegetative and reproductive structures.
Dr. Erdei will be working as a Fulbright Scholar for three months at the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
Dr. Erdei has been studying micro and macromorphological characteristics of fossil cycads. Though much of the macromorphological characteristics are identical, the micromorphological characteristics of the extinct cycads when compared to their extant relatives are quite different. Dr. Erdei looks at the location of stomata and the guard cells associated with them, along with other micromorphological characteristics.
Visitors to the lecture enjoyed seeing the similarities and differences between the fossilized remains and present day cycads. Many fossilized cycads were originally though to be fossilized ferns, due to their similar macrostructure, but after close and careful observation this identification was shown to be inaccurate.
Cycad Biologist Michael Calonje states, “It is amazing that such exquisite detail can be found in the micromorphology of fossilized cycad remains from millions of years ago. At MBC, Dr. Erdei was able to utilize our living cycad collection to quickly compile a database of samples of extant cycad species for comparative studies with extinct fossilized cycads. We were happy to see Dr. Erdei utilize our cycad collection in such a novel and interesting way.”