298 million years old forest has been found in China

Artist's rendition of 298 million years old forest

Researchers have found 298 million years old ‘Pompeii-like’ forest that was buried in coal mine, by volcanic ash, at a site near Wuda, China. It was the beginning of the Permian period. At that time, the climate was almost same as that of today and the continental plates of the Earth were moving towards each other forming the supercontinent Pangea.

[hana-code-insert name=’StumbleUpon’ /] [hana-code-insert name=’Reddit’ /] Plants were found to be preserved as they fell on their exact locations as volcanic ash covered the forest in a matter of days. Researchers have also found some smaller trees in intact form with leaves, branches, trunk and cones.

“It’s marvelously preserved,” says University of Pennsylvania paleobotanist Hermann Pfefferkorn.

“We can stand there and find a branch with the leaves attached, and then we find the next branch and the next branch and the next branch. And then we find the stump from the same tree. That’s really exciting.”

Researchers were able to observe almost 1000 square meters of ash layer as the local coal mining already explored a large area of rocks. They studied the three different sites and found six groups of trees, in which some trees were up to 80 feet high with tree ferns making a lower canopy. Researchers have also found the specimens of “Noeggerathiales” i.e. spore bearing trees relating to ferns.

“This is the first such forest reconstruction in Asia for any time interval, it’s the first of a peat forest for this time interval and it’s the first with Noeggerathiales as a dominant group,” says Pfefferkorn. “It’s a time capsule.”

Further Reading:

University of Pennsylvania


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