IMAGES: Peek-a-Boo Leaves

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Science  14 Feb 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5609, pp. 989
DOI: 10.1126/science.299.5609.989e

Unlike dead men, fossil leaves do tell tales. By analyzing their size and shape, paleobotanists can gauge past climates, and evidence of nibbling can reveal the dining habits of ancient herbivores. The Cleared Leaf Collection from the University of California Museum of Paleontology in Berkeley can help researchers identify fossil leaves, a key step in inferring climate patterns or diet. The collection contains modern leaves bleached to remove pigment and then stained, which highlights the pattern of veins and other distinctive characteristics. So far, the site holds images of nearly 400 cleared leaves, with another 1700 coming by midsummer. Above, a white oak leaf with munch marks from insects.

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