Have you imagined how the forest 300 million years ago looked like? Scientists from USA and China found an old forest buried intact under a coal mine near Wuda, in Inner Mongolia, China. The ancient forest is almost 300 million year old and was preserved by volcanic ash, much like Pompeii.
Six groups of trees were discovered in the forest, including low tree ferns, 80-foot-high Sigillaria and Cordaites trees, and also an extinct spore-bearing tree called Noeggerathiales. The ash preserved these trees so well that scientists could find branches with leaves attached.
The coal that is mined today at Wuda site is composed of the plants and trees that grew over the ash several hundred million years. Scientist claim that this forest would have turned into coal as well, if there was not a volcanic eruption.
Interestingly, at that time, Earth’s climate was comparable to what it is today, making it of interest to researchers who look at ancient climate patterns to help understand contemporary climate variations.
The findings are indeed “firsts” on many counts.
Herman Pfefferkorn, a leader of the research group, said that this finding is indeed “firsts” on many counts: “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”.
A reconstruction of the 300-million-year-old peat-forming forest at a site near Wuda, China is presented below:
The study was supported by the Chinese Academy of Science, the National Basic Research Program of China, the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the University of Pennsylvania.
The full scientifc article about this incredible finding can be reached here: Permian vegetational Pompeii from Inner Mongolia and its implications for landscape paleoecology and paleobiogeography of Cathaysia