Conjure a Prehistoric World with These Palm-Frond Fossil Slabs

The museum-quality pieces were excavated from a site in Wyoming, which was once a lush, nearly tropical Eden.
Living room with fossilized palm fronds hanging over the couch
Eocene Epoch palm-frond fossil diptych, 2019

Rarely has the scientifically significant been as visually appealing as the two halves of a 50-million-year-old palm-frond fossil currently on offer from Green River Stone Company, in Logan, Utah. Perfectly preserved in two book-matched stone slabs that stand eight feet tall, the frond is from a tree that grew in the Eocene Epoch.

“It was long ago, when Wyoming was Florida,” says proprietor Cynthia Scott. She means that Wyoming, where the fossil was found, had a subtropical climate back then, about 50 million years before modern humans first appeared on this planet.

Jerome Montgomery, Scott’s husband and the company’s director of geology and paleontology, was the one who excavated it, with the help of his team. He explains that the key to the frond’s pristine condition is the former lake bed where it was found, one of the world’s most renowned fossil deposits.

Workers at an excavation site
Jerome Montgomery’s team unearths fossils at the Green River Stone Company’s private quarry in southwestern Wyoming.

“It was the best location for preserving specimens,” Montgomery says. “There was enough depth that whatever died or dropped in there and fell to the bottom wouldn’t decay because of the lack of oxygen.” The rivers feeding the lake carried in extra sediment for good measure, and there the frond lay until it was excavated, in 2018.

“This is a home-run, spectacular item,” Scott says of the pair of striking black silhouettes in textured stone. “The symmetry is so compelling.” She couldn’t help but suggest ways to use the unique pieces, which have a particular appeal, given the world’s current preoccupation with the environment. “Having them flank a fireplace or entryway — there’s so much potential,” Scott says. “You could decorate a room around them.”

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