The oldest fossil forest in the world is no longer located in the United States, but in England

The oldest fossil forest in the world is no longer located in the United States, but in England

An exceptional discovery

Just when we thought we had finally got our hands on the world's oldest forest in Cairo, USA, surprising news has just emerged. In fact, southwest England has just revealed a secret of global importance: the age of a group of fossilized trees. This amounts to 390 million years ago.

Fossils of standing plants and cladoxylopsids, a group of extinct plants related to ferns and sphenopsids, have been discovered in this forest dating back to the Middle Devonian Period (393 million to 383 million years ago). Therefore, trees of this era probably resembled small palm trees, with a long central stem bearing a crown of slender branches. The discoveries are much richer than scientists previously thought. In fact, they considered this area “paleobotanically poor.”

“The Gladman Sandstone Formation demonstrates the revolutionary power of cladoxylopsids as vital geomorphological agents, forming densely spaced forests and disposing of exceptionally abundant plant detritus, while influencing local topography and sediment accumulations and in profoundly modifying the resistance of reliefs to flood disturbance,” Explanation of the study authors. This therefore means that trees have modified the entire terrestrial biosphere and forests have been able to evolve.

Description of this forest

According to Neil Davies, lead author of the study, it appears that this forest was not very tall. In fact, cladoxylopsids range between 2 and 4 meters in height.

“We found rocks with standing trees on them in adjacent growing sites in a particular area.”Mr Davies said. ” So we are left with a snapshot that allows us to say with certainty that trees grew in this specific location and that the sediment we observe is the forest floor.“.

In addition to tree fossils, researchers discovered traces of other plants dating back to the Middle Devonian period, as well as signs of some ancient creatures.

If this forest is the oldest fossil forest, you should know that the oldest living tree is much younger, dating back only 5,400 years.

source : Journal of the Geological Society

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