google news

The Oldest Forest in the World Is in New York City and Is Really Old

Oldest Forest in the World

When did the first forests, as we know them today, appear on Earth? According to a new study published in Current Biology much earlier than we think. In fact, researchers have discovered, in an area of the Catskill region near Cairo, New York, the existence of extremely ancient roots.

They date back to 385 million years ago, the so-called Devonian period. In other words, it is the oldest forest in the world.

The Oldest Forest in the World

It would be at that time that the first forest appeared on our planet.

This is explained by William Stein, one of the authors of the study. What emerges from the research is that it was a time of profound change.

Before this forest, Stein and his team identified another forest in 2012 as the oldest ever discovered. It was the fossil forest of Gilboa, always in the same area. But today, even older roots appear in Cairo, whose trees were very different. In fact, they have three unique root systems, which would show that the forest in question was composed of different trees. The research team therefore tried to recognise as many trees as possible so that they could tell what era they were from.

The Most Ancient Trees

Among them they recognized the Eospermatopteris, palm-like trees first identified at the Gilboa site. They feature relatively rudimentary roots, which have a limited range. For this reason the roots lived only a year or two, and when they died there were other roots to replace them.

Another tree found at the Cairo site is the Archaeopteris, an extinct tree with characteristics partly similar to modern seed plants. Precisely because of this similarity, experts consider it an ancestor of modern seed plants. It would have been the first plant, according to the researchers, to form leaves. In fact, it had a very modern underground root system, which probably dominated the local forest ecosystem at the time.

But that’s not all. Researchers have identified a third root system in the fossilized soil of Cairo. It belongs to the Lycopsida tree. That is interesting because the first traces of this tree date back to the Carboniferous period. This means that it doesn’t belong to the more ancient Devonian one.

Now the team wants to study the region and compare the results with those of other fossil forests. Only in this way is it possible to understand the evolutionary and ecological history of the forests. The study, however, has ultimately shown that already in the Devonian era there were rather sophisticated trees with strong, branched and intricate roots. It is much earlier than we thought.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

More To Read