300-million-year-old forest found in northern China, covered with volcanic ash

By on Feb 21, 2012 in Asia, Environment, Science Comments

A so-called 300-million-year-old forest was reportedly discovered in northern China, which is being dubbed as the Pompeii of the Permian period, since it was covered and preserved by volcanic ash.

A reconstruction of the 300-million-year-old
forest found near in China

Image Credit: UPenn.edu

According to press release by University of Pennsylvania on its official website on Monday, February 20, 2012, the 300-million-year-old Pompeii-like tropical forest was found in a site near Wuda, China.

As noted in the report, the research, which was also published in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) this week, was conducted by a team of American and Chinese scientists.

“It’s marvelously preserved. We can stand there and find a branch with the leaves attached, and then we find the next branch and the next branch and the next branch.” Hermann Pfefferkorn, who collaborated with other scientists in the discovery, was quoted on the report.

“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.” Pfefferkorn added, who is also a paleobotanist from University of Pennsylvania.

Pfefferkorn was said to have collaborated with three Chinese colleagues namely, Jun Wang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Yi Zhang of Shenyang Normal University and Zhuo Feng of Yunnan University in doing the research study.

Apparently, researchers have found three different sites with ash layer of approximately 1,000 square meters, which are located near one another, along with some smaller trees with leaves, branches, trunk and cones still intact.

However, these three sites were noted to be somewhat different from one another in plant composition, which researchers have worked with painter Ren Yugao to show reconstructions of all of them.

Meanwhile, Mr. Pfefferkorn stressed out that since the discovery is the first of its kind, it cannot reveal how climate changes affected life on Earth, but noted that it will help provide valuable context.

Nevertheless, the study was supported by the Chinese Academy of Science, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the National Basic Research Program of China and the University of Pennsylvania.

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