Scientists have found a slice of the world’s oldest fossilised forest. The slice was found in an abandoned quarry in Cairo, New York. These rare webs of fossilised roots are nearly 11 meters wide, and mark the spot where the first trees once stood. While the discovery of these fossils weren’t exactly that recent, as they were discovered by chance in 2009, scientists of today believe that these fossils are actually part of the first plants to capture and store carbon dioxide, as ScienceAlert detailed:
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Many of these long woody roots are thought to belong to plants of the Archaeopteris genus, an ancestor of today’s modern trees and one of the first to capture and store carbon dioxide from the air with its flat green leaves.
This sort of activity would have dramatically shifted our planet’s climate, potentially adding more oxygen to the atmosphere and providing lush habitats for primitive insects and millipede-like creatures. It would be many more years before birds and other large animals made their home in the trees.
“By the end of the Devonian period [360 million years ago], the amount of carbon dioxide was coming down to what we know it is today,” explained Berry to New Scientist.
The international team of researchers has so far mapped over 3,000 square metres of this fossilised forest (over 32,000 square feet), which includes two other types of ancient tree; one of them belongs to a fossil plant group known as cladoxylopsids, and the other is yet to be identified.
image via ScienceAlert