We all know that landscapes change over time, but what would a forest on planet earth have looked like 298-million-years ago? Thanks to the discovery of a fossilized forest found near Wuda in northern China, we essentially have a frozen view of a habitat to study and learn from at our disposal.
The peat forest is 10,763-square-feet and was preserved from the ash released by a volcano all those years ago. Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania, Shenyang Normal University and Yunnan University worked together on the project.
Paleobotanist Hermann Pfefferkorn said about the find, “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. And then we find the stump from the same tree. That’s really exciting.”
The International Weekly Journal of Science says about the forest, “Besides sporting a broad, low canopy of tree ferns, the peat forest contained trees that looked like feather dusters, with trunks twice the height of telephone poles; vines and three species of an enigmatic group called Noeggerathiales — small spore-bearing trees that scientists think are close relatives of the earliest ferns.”
That’s a forest we’d like to see. And thanks to artist Ren Yugao’s paintings of the site, we can.