Gilboa Fossil Forest

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Gilboa Fossil Forest, New York, USA, is cited as home to the Earth's oldest forest.[1] Located near the Gilboa Dam in Schoharie County, New York, the region is home to tree trunks from the Devonian Period, which occurred roughly 380 million years ago. The fossils, some of the only survivors of their type in the world, are remnants of the Earth's earliest forests. This location has been of great interest to paleobotanists since the 1920s when New York City began a water project and excavation for a dam. The project turned up large upright tree stumps from a fossil forest, some of which are on display at the Gilboa Dam site and the New York Power Authority Blenheim-Gilboa Visitor's Center in Schoharie County and at the New York State Museum.

Gilboa tree fossil

History[edit]

An international research team has found evidence of the Earth's earliest forest trees, dating back 385 million years. Upright stumps of fossilized trees were uncovered after a flash flood in Gilboa, upstate New York, more than a century ago. However, until 2007, the crowns of the trees and overall morphology were unknown. They were located along the coast of an inland sea that covered what is now the southern part of New York and western Pennsylvania. William Stein, associate professor of biological sciences at Binghamton University and colleagues at the New York State Museum in Albany, NY and Cardiff University in the United Kingdom have found an intact tree more than 26 feet tall with a system of frond-like, but leafless branches resulting in a superficially tree fern or palm tree-like form.[2] These findings have helped to determine that Eospermatopteris belongs to the Cladoxylopsida class, which were big vascular plants with spectacular morphology for their time. One reason scientists are so fascinated by these trees is that they were part of "afforestation," the original greening of the earth. That process had a major impact on the planet's climate, carbon cycling and, ultimately, what kinds of animals evolved in these ecosystems.

Dr Berry, of Cardiff's School of Earth, Ocean and Planetary Sciences, said: "This was also a significant moment in the history of the planet. The rise of the forests removed a lot of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This caused temperatures to drop and the planet became very similar to its present-day condition."

Recent updates[edit]

Nine 370 million year-old fossil trees are being moved to a new site half a mile away from the overlook at the Gilboa Dam, according to an announcement by Commissioner Joel A. Miele Sr., P.E. of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Kristen V. H. Wyckoff of the Gilboa Historical Society. The rare fossil trees will be loaned by DEP to the Gilboa Historical Society for a new exhibit and educational kiosk on land owned by the town of Gilboa.

See also[edit]

Additional Reading[edit]

  1. Staff Writers, Binghamton, NY (SPX) Apr 23, 2007, Mystery Of Oldest Trees Unraveled
  2. Geoff Ryan (718/595-6600), September 25, 2000, Rare Fossil Trees To Be Moved To New Site In Gilboa [1]
  3. Staff Writers, Cardiff. NY (SPX) Apr 20,2007, Mystery of Fossilized Trees Is Solved
  4. Michael Hill, Albany, NY (AP) June 3, 2007, Fossilized tree found in N.Y. [2]
  5. Rachel Coker, Binghamton Univ.,NY April 19, 2007, Volume 28, No.27., Faculty member helps unravel mystery of Earth's oldest forest [3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Goldring, W (1927). "The oldest known petrified forest". Sci. Mthly 24: 514–529. 
  2. ^ Stein, WE; Mannolini, F; Hernick, LV; Landing, E; Berry, CM (2007-04-19). "Giant cladoxylopsid trees resolve the enigma of the Earth's earliest forest stumps at Gilboa.". Nature 446 (7138): 904–7. doi:10.1038/nature05705. PMID 17443185. 

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