The largest fossil forest ever discovered has been unearthed in the dark and clammy depths of an Illinois coal mine. Scientists are saying it is more than fifty times larger than any other fossil forest. This fossilized forest dates back to the carboniferous era, about 307 million years ago, just before the first great forests in the world were wiped out by global warming.
According to the New York Times, the fossilized forest is located in the Springfield Coal Mine, which has been one of the nations largest energy resources for over ten years and underlies Illinois and two neighboring states. Over millions of years layers of rock have crushed the forest to varying depths of 250 to 800 feet below ground. Scientists are unsure of its exact size, but samples from the vicinity of Galatia, Illinois make them think it extends over 100 miles.
With the find of this fossil forest stretching hundreds of miles scientists will be able to undertake an analysis of the ecosystem in a way never before possible in ancient landscapes. The studies and evidence they will gather will help them predict the effects of global warming today.
“With our own CO2 rises and changes in climate, we can look at the past here and say, ‘It’s happened before’” said Scott D. Elrick, a team member of the Illinois State Geological Survey.
New York Times. By W. Barksdale Maynard. Retrieved June 4, 2012, from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/01/science/underground-fossil-forest-in-illinois-offers-clues-on-climate-change.html?ref=fossils