Rare 20-million-year-old petrified tree measuring 62 feet tall discovered in Greece with branches and roots still intact was preserved by an ancient volcanic eruption
- A 62-foot petrified tree was discovered during roadwork in western Lesbos
- It’s the first tree fossil in the region to still have branches in good condition
- The orientation of the tree confirms there’s a second volcano on the island
- Some petrified trees are so lifelike that bark and cellular structures are visible
Scientists in Greece have discovered a rare fossilized tree with its branches and roots still intact after millions of years.
The 62-foot tree was found during roadwork near an ancient forest on the island of Lesbos that was petrified by a volcanic eruption some 20 million years ago.
Petrified wood is actually a fossil formed when a tree is covered in volcanic ash and its organic remains are slowly replaced by minerals.
The tree was removed from the road using a special splint and metal platform and will go on display in the next few months.
This is the first time a preserved tree has been found in such good condition in the area since excavations began in 1995.
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A 62-foot-long petrified tree was discovered on the Greek island of Lesbos with its branches and roots still intact. Scientists tie the fossil to a volcanic eruption some 20 million years ago
Nikos Zouros, a geomorphologist with the Natural History Museum of the Lesbos Petrified Forest, called it a ‘unique find.’
‘To date, no corresponding trunk of a fossilized tree with intact branches has been found, which has been maintained in good condition until today,’ Zouros said.
‘It is preserved in excellent condition and from studying the fossilized wood we will be able to identify the type of plant it comes from.’
Protected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Lesbos’ 37,000-acre petrified forest is the result of a volcanic eruption 20 million years ago that smothered Lesbos’ subtropical ecosystem in lava.
According to researchers, the orientation of the trunk confirms the existence of second volcano on Lesbos
After it fell, the tree was preserved by a thick layer of volcanic ash.
A large number of fruit tree leaves were found in the same spot, as were various animal bones.
‘During the excavations the various forests that existed between 17 and 20 million years ago on Lesbos are being uncovered and we can reconstruct the ecosystem that existed during that period,’ said Zouros.
The well-preserved trunk was uncovered during demolition work on asphalt along Kalloni-Sigri Road in western Lesbos.
This is the first time a preserved tree has been found in such good condition in the area since excavations began in 1995
‘It is preserved in excellent condition and from studying the fossilized wood we will be able to identify the type of plant it comes from,’ researchers say
‘The tree is in its original position of growth and it seems that the force of the volcanic eruption laid it on the ground where it was found,’ said Zouros.
The orientation of the trunk confirms the existence of a second volcano on the island, he added.
Petrified wood is created when plant material is so buried by sediment that it’s protected from the decay caused by microorganisms.
The plant’s original substance is eventually replaced by minerals like silica, pyrite, calcite, according to Geology.com, resulting in a fossil that can retain details of the tree’s bark and even details of its cellular structures.
Petrified wood is created when plant material is so buried by sediment that it’s protected from the decay caused by microorganisms
Another petrified tree in Lesbos’ Petrified Forest National Park. Some trees are so well preserved that even bark and cellular structures are still visible
Some petrified wood is so ‘lifelike,’ it’s not apparent they’re fossils until someone tries to pick them up.
Petrified trees can offer rare insights into ecosystems from millions of years ago: In August, scientists in Peru uncovered a petrified tree dating back some 10 million years, indicating how the environment in the Andes mountain has changed dramatically over time.
Though the fossil was found more than 13,000 feet above sea level, its anatomy was much like that of wood found in low-elevation tropical forests.
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