The discovery of the oldest trees in Canada sheds light on Earth's past

In New Brunswick, unique fossils of ancient trees dated 350 million years ago have been found. The discovery reveals details about early ecosystems and the development of vegetation on Earth

Ancient fossils in the Canadian province of New Brunswick
Ancient fossils in the Canadian province of New Brunswick / cell.com

In the Canadian province of New Brunswick, scientists have discovered unique fossils of five trees that were buried underground as a result of an ancient earthquake, dated 350 million years ago. The study, published in the journal Current Biology, emphasizes that these rare finds are not only attractive in their form but also provide valuable information about long-gone epochs of Earth, which until now remained a mystery.

As Robert Gastaldo, a specialist in paleontology and sedimentology who headed the study, explained, these fossils serve as "time capsules," allowing us to look into the past epochs of Earth's history. The first samples were discovered in 2017 during fieldwork in a New Brunswick quarry. One of these trees, named "Sanfordiacaulis," is even estimated to be older than 400 million years.

These ancient plants, reaching a height of five meters and a crown diameter of nearly six meters, amazed scientists with their size. Different from modern ferns and palms, "Sanfordiacaulis" had over 250 leaves, each about 1.7 meters long, indicating their uniqueness in the ancient flora.

Matthew Stimson, curator of the Department of Geology and Paleontology at the New Brunswick Museum, suggests that the preservation of these trees might have been due to catastrophic geological processes, such as landslides triggered by earthquakes in ancient rift lakes.

Peter Wilf, a professor of paleobotany, underscores that these findings are exceptionally significant, as they help to understand the evolution of early forests, which, in turn, aids in explaining the structure of modern tropical forests, home to the majority of living organisms on Earth.

According to King, a museum staff member, these trees grew in the late Paleozoic era, when flora and fauna began actively colonizing land. Fossils similar to "Sanfordiacaulis" not only illustrate changes in living nature but also may provide scientists with a key to understanding the future evolutionary path of life on the planet. Scientists believe that these ancient plants, like many early invertebrates, actively adapted to their surroundings, experimenting with different life forms.

It was previously reported that Joshua Kutryk from Canada will join the crew of CST-100 Starliner from Boeing for a mission to the ISS in 2025, alongside NASA astronauts.

Also, in the tropical forests of Queensland, Australia, over three years, the number of species threatened with extinction due to climate change has increased by 25%

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