Scientists have discovered fossils of trees estimated to be 290 million years old in the southern Brazilian state of Paraná. It is about a forest of 164 fossils of an extinct species of lycophytes, which reproduce by spores.
The Petrified Forest was discovered by chance in late 2018, during a geological survey to build a road to a factory. Then scientists from the universities of Parana, Rio Grande do Sul (southern state of Brazil) and the University of California at Davis (USA) began a study. The results of this research were published in February in the specialized journal “Palaeogeography, paleoclimatology, paleobiology”.
According to Tami Motin, a geologist at Parana University, this is “the most important discovery in the Southern Hemisphere” in terms of the quantity and condition of fossils. Previously, scientists had made similar discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere, notably in Rio Grande do Sul and Argentine Patagonia, but these were smaller discoveries.
Fossils are considered a “window into the past” for the study of plant evolution. “These plants, which are estimated to be 290 million years old, are very primitive life forms in history,” Motin said. “The forest, which grew near the now city of Ortigueira, shows how the first plants spread, how they were distributed in space, and how their interactions with other life forms were.”
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