By: April Carson
The remains of an ancient forest discovered in a quarry near Cairo, New York have been determined to be 386 million years old. This makes the forest the oldest ever found, pushing back the last record-holder by about 70 million years.
In a recent study published in the journals Current Biology and New Scientist, scientists have discovered new evidence of how Earth's climate has changed over time, as well as information that forests evolved 2 to 3 million years earlier than was previously believed.
Christopher Berry of Cardiff University in the UK said that while Charles Ver Straeten was simply walking across the floor of the quarry, he discovered these large root structures. This find involved Christopher Berry at Cardiff University who discovered additional fossils in 2008.
The researchers discovered three categories of trees at the excavation site, which is evidence that the forests back then had various types of trees. Out of these three, one specific tree's roots can grow up to 11 meters long. This species is reminiscent of present-day conifers and was known to be the very first plantto have green leaves that were flattened.
Scientists made a groundbreaking discovery when they found the remains of the oldest forest in Earth's history at an abandoned quarry near Cairo, NY. The forest was estimated to be 386 million years old, making it the first known evidence of a large-scale plant community on land.
This discovery is monumental in the history of understanding how life first started on Earth. When old trees sprout clusters of roots, they use them to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and store it away.
The oldest Archaeopteris fossils found before this discovery were dated back to no more than 365 million years, Berry said. The evolution of this plant into a modern tree is still unknown.
According to Patricia Gensel, a paleontologist from the University of North Carolina, the recent discovery in Cairo suggests that Archaeopteris started its transition around 20 million years ago.
By 20 years ago, researchers thought that trees with such large and complex root systems could not have developed so early in geological history. But according to a recent study, those roots may have been vital to the survival of these prehistoric trees.
Not only does Archaeopteris incubate and nurture the life around him, but he also helps spur on the evolution of new creatures.
"The new study's lead author, William Stein, a biologist at Binghamton University in New York said that Archaeopteris seems to reveal the earliest foundations of what forests will eventually grow into." Earlier evidence from body fossils of Archaeopteris, as well as recent root evidence, suggests that these plants evolved very rapidly in comparison to other plant species. Although significantly different from modern tree species, Archaeopteris appears to show the evolutionary path that forests would take at that time.
"This is an incredible discovery which will help us to understand how forests evolved over time," said Stein. "It's a remarkable example of how new species can arise and become a major part of the global ecosystem."
In addition to uncovering evidence of "scaly plants" of the class Lycopsida, Stein and his research team also discovered trees that were previously thought to only exist during the Carboniferous period. These newfound trees existed at the end of Devonian period--some millions years earlier than what was previosuly believed. As a result, these findings offer solid proof that forests actually evolved much sooner than we initially thought.
The quarry floor that the team found was roughly the size of half a rugby field, said Christopher Berry, a paleontologist at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom. This find means they have cut across an ancient forest just below its surface.
The forest was at its peak 150 million years before the first birds, animals, and dinosaurs appeared on Earth. It was found in an area rich of fossils and is filled with many species that were discovered for the first time.
Although no large animals dwell in this wood, millipedes and other creepy-crawlies probably scurry around it. "It's strange to imagine a forest without big creatures," Chris Berry, a paleontologist at Cardiff University and co-author of the new research told The Guardian.
Deforestation and its role in climate change has been a highly debated topic as of late. Sandy Hetherington, researcher at University of Oxford, suggests that further research is needed to uncover the truth about deforestation's effect on current climate change.
She explains that understanding the effects of climate change and deforestation in the past is key to predicting future events.
The discovery of the world's oldest forest is an invaluable asset that could help us better understand the effects of deforestation and climate change. Berry explains that, "This site allows us to get a glimpse into what the planet was like before there were any big animals around."
Berry believes that by understanding how forests reacted to past climate changes, we can begin to better predict how they will respond in the future.
This newly discovered 386 million year old forest could provide us with invaluable insight that we desperately need to comprehend our current climate crisis and prepare for what is to come.
Billy Carson & Doctah B Sirius Blueprint for Godpower.
About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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