Ancient Permian ecosystem reconstructed by scientists from ash-covered plants

Monday, February 27th, 2012 6:50:32 by

Ancient Permian ecosystem reconstructed by scientists from ash-covered plants

A group of Paleoecologists have successfully constructed a Permian-era swampy frost filled with extinct plant species with the help of fossils that were entombed in a layer of volcanic ash in northern China under a coal mine.

Though most of the species are already know, the eruption created a sort of time capsule which preserved a never-seen-before level of detail.

Whenever broad areas are preserved in a geological instant, researchers can get a true glimpse of the ecosystem and ecology of the forest. Hermann Pfefferkorn, a paleoecologist at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, states that the most reliable
preservation comes from a layer of volcanic ash, which is even better for specimens that floods.

The forest as old as 298 million years and by analysing the positions of individual plants spread across three sides, researchers reconstructed everything.

These findings were then published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Peat forest contained trees that looked like feather dusters, with trunks twice the height of telephone poles.

They found three species of Noeggerathiales, a small-spore bearing type of tree that is supposed to be a close relative of the earliest ferns.

298 million years ago, the forest sat on the northwestern tip of a large tropical island off the eastern shore of the supercontinent Pangea, while most forests like this one had died out elsewhere millions of years earlier.


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