World’s oldest fossil forest uncovered in US
Trees are the future and they are also our past.
Scientists have discovered remnants of the world’s oldest fossil forest — an extensive network of trees around 386 million years old — in a sandstone quarry in the US.
The fossil forest in Cairo would have spread from New York all the way into Pennsylvania and beyond.
The forest is around 2 or 3 million years older than what was thought to be the world’s oldest forest at Gilboa, also in New York State and around 40 kilometres away from the Cairo site.
The research shows that the forest was home to at least two types of trees.
Cladoxylopsids, primitive tree-fern-like plants, lacked flat green leaves, and grew in vast numbers at Gilboa, while Archaeopteris had a conifer-like woody trunk and frond-like branches which had green flattened leaves.
A single example of a third type of tree was also uncovered, which remained unidentified but could possibly have been a lycopod.
All these trees reproduced using only spores rather than seeds.
Did you know
The Cairo forest is older than the one at Gilboa because the fossils were lower down in the sequence of rocks that occur in the Catskill mountains.