300 Million-Year-Old Fossilized Forest Discovered Near Inner Mongolia's Wuda Coal Mine

By

Word Count

400 words

Reading Level

Listen to Article

3-Minute Listen

A University of Pennsylvania paleontologist and a team of Chinese researchers recently stumbled upon an amazing discovery in Northern China - A perfectly fossilized forest that dates all the way back to the Permian Period, when the Earth's plates were still moving towards each other to form the super continent, Pangea. During this time, North America and Europe were one continent, while China existed as two separate continents. Since they overlapped the equator, all enjoyed tropical weather.

The trees and bushes estimated to be about 300 million years old were discovered near the Wuda coal mines in Inner Mongolia, where they have lain, perfectly preserved by a layer of ash, that the researchers believe may have at one time been, as thick as, 39 inches.

According to the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology Researcher, Jun Wang, the ash fall buried and killed the plants, toppled the trees and then left them all in the same place undisturbed, for millions of years. As a result, the team was able to find fossilized branches of trees complete with leaves attached right next to each other and even, close to their own tree stumps.

The scientists examined data from three different sites spanning about 10,764 square feet and discovered that each had different trees - Some were dominant in one area, but entirely missing from the others. All in all, they were able to identify six groups of trees. Among them were the 80 ft tall Sigillaria and Cordaites that formed the forest canopy. Also discovered, were some almost complete specimens of the now extinct Noeggerathiales - A spore-bearing tree, related to the fern.

The new find is being compared to the discovery of the ancient Italian city of Pompeii which also was preserved by volcanic ash. It will give scientists a chance to examine an ecosystem that doesn't exist anymore, providing them with an in-depth look at ancient plant communities and even, a glimpse into the life in that area, prior to the creation of the super continent, Pangea.

Pangea is the name coined for the giant landmass that existed about 250 million years ago, before the earth's plate tectonics shuffled around and split them all into the continents they currently are. Though Pangea, which lasted about 100 million years is the most well-known, scientists believe the earth plates had come together several times in its history to form super continents.

Resources: sci-news.com, zmesience.com, gizmondo.com

Cite Article
Geography
255 Comments
  • gold3nglare
    gold3nglare7 months
    Wow, cool
    • Cool Events!over 2 years
      Wow, this is very amazing information about Pangea, also known as our history. We all know more about this, thank you!
      • potatoalmost 3 years
        this helped so much thanks you
        • Pixel Donkeyalmost 3 years
          God it is 300 million years old
          • chnamealmost 3 years
            That came from a volcano! !!!!
            • Judealmost 3 years
              this is soooooooo cool#101
              • Aswd almost 3 years
                The first thing to do is to get your own way to do that
                • Sisialmost 3 years
                  I’m doing a report on this so thx for this amazing info! My uncles and aunts are Italian so it’s so cool that your comparing this to Pompeii!
                  • Tatialmost 3 years
                    This was a lot but at least I learned something!
                    • Me almost 3 years
                      Helped me in class Thank you so much