The Paleozoic team of the Institut de l'Evolution de Montpellier, also doing research concerning Moroccan fossil faunas and floras, and who had collaborated with Wendt, convinced him of the importance of this finding, reports Meyer-Berthaud. So, in 1996, Wendt collected the trunk and a number of other specimens and brought them back to Germany. Meyer-Berthaud, who has studied Archaeopteris and other ancient plants for 20 years, was allowed to borrow these fossils from the Museum of Geology and Paleontology of the University of Tübingen.
"In a preliminary analysis, I recognized at least three different species in this assemblage," Meyer-Berthaud recalls. She presented her results in 1997, in a paper co-authored with Wendt and Jean Galtier of Montpellier University in Geological Magazine, and at a conference of the Botanical Society of America held in Montreal. Scheckler was at that conference and proposed a collaboration on an international symposium on Archaeopteris.
The ancient tree and its relatives have been central to Scheckler's research for more than 30 years, since he spent summers as a graduate student searching road cuts and quarries for traces of Devonian-age plants as New York State built highways through the Catskills.
In 1998, with support from the National Science Foundation, Scheckler went on a research sabbatical to work with Meyer-Berthaud and other scientists at Université Montpellier and they went with Wendt to Morocco.
"In three days, we filled a truck," Scheckler says. Looking for tree pieces with points of branching, the researchers gathered more than 150 pieces from three locations in the Mader Basin and Tafilalt Platform. (They are presently housed in the Paleontological Collections of the Montpellier University.)