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Quarry is located in the town of Bathgate, just about dead in the middle of the legendary (for fossils) Scottish Midland Valley. According to Clack (2002), Bathgate is a suburb of Edinburgh. However, it may just as easily be called a suburb of Glasgow. Undoubtedly the Edinburgh cachet adds a few percent to sale prices in the housing development next door to the quarry. In the 1830's and 40's, when the quarry was active, it yeilded some interesting Carboniferous plants and , but nothing startling. When the quarry closed, the place was forgotten until (as Clack relates) found there in 1984. The quarry was then re-opened and literally dozens of tetrapods came rolling out: (a temnospondyl), and (basal anthracosaurs), all in multiple copies, and one spectacular proto-amniote, .
Not only were these finds interesting in their own right, but they helped to fill in "," the temporal and phylogenetic gap between rather fishy Late Devonian forms and the amniotes of the Pennsylvanian. East Kirkton is Late VisĂ©an age, so it's in the right time frame. It's a big gap, and we've a very long way to go, but East Kirkton is a good start.
The seaside cliffs of , Nova Scotia are another Canadian UNESCO World Heritage site. This is the famous place where was stumped in the Pennsylvanian. The Joggins fossils are probably of Age. Their exact placement in time is still somewhat controversial. The site probably represents a coastal swamp thickly covered with large, tree-sized lycopsids. These large lycopsids were not as structurally sound as today's angiosperms. Their trunks seem to have broken frequently. The central column of lycopsids is soft and rots out much faster than the outer trunk. Normal decay thus left hollow stumps, which became either homes or traps for small animals living in the swamp. Their remains can be found in fossilized stumps, frequently in an excellent state of preservation. The basal temnospondyl, Dendrerpeton and several other small vertebrates are among those which have been recovered because of this unique mode of preservation.
One of the reasons that Joggins is so significant is that it has preserved what are normally the rarest fossils -- the small vertebrates; and it has preserved them often in fully-articulated form. This is a valuable check on our ideas about the evolution of vertebrates as we approach the huge diversity of forms in the Permian and beyond.
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