The most ancient fossil trees, almost 386 million years, have been identified at an abandoned quarry in New York. Researchers thought that the forest they belonged was so dense it formerly extended beyond Pennsylvania.
This finding in Cairo, New York, is believed to be two or three million years older than what was originally the world’s most ancient forest at Gilboa, also in New York. The discovery brought new light on the evolution of trees.
World’s Most Ancient Fossil Trees Unveiled in New York
More than ten years ago that researchers from Cardiff University, UK, the New York State Museum, and Binghamton University in the US started at the site in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains in the Hudson Valley.
Since then, they have analyzed more than 3,000 square meters of the forest and settled the forest was host to at least two categories of trees, the Archaeopteris and Cladoxylopsids. A third one has yet to be discovered.
Dr.Chris Berry, a palaeobotanist at Cardiff University, is a co-author of the research in the journal Current Biology. He stated: “This is the oldest place where you can wander around and map out where fossil trees were standing back in the middle part of the Devonian era.”
Experts indicate that they also identified very extensive, woody roots that conducted the way plants and soils collect water. Dr.Berry added, “It’s a very ancient forest from the beginnings of the time where the planet was turning green and forests were becoming a normal part of the Earth’s system.” It’s known that the forest was cleared out by a flood. The experts have also identified some fish fossils on the are of the quarry.
How Does Such a Discovery Help Us Learn the Planet’s History?
The period in time that fossil trees date to records a change between a planet with no forests and a world that is merely surrounded in trees. Dr.Berry states that examining the site can offer us some insights into how trees developed and how they bring down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
He detailed: “We’re well aware at the moment that having forests is a good thing and burning down forests and deforestation is a bad thing.”