Spectacular tree fossils unearthed

An amateur geologist has discovered an array of fossilised trees, which date back 350 million years.

Take Cover library image The Natural Environment Research Council’s Planet Earth website reports that the fine specimens were found by keen fossil hunter Elsa Henderson on the Isle of Bute, Scotland.

She reported her find of more than 300 fragments to Dr Howard Falcon-Lang, a tree fossil expert at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Dr Falcon Lang selected some of the best samples to examine under a microscope, which revealed them to be specimens of the extinct Pitus primaeva.

“These were big, woody trees, up to 40-45m tall,” he explained.

“They are a primitive type of tree related to conifers and an ancestor of modern pines and spruces.”

While the recent find is not the first time that fossilised trees have been found in Scotland, Dr Falcon-Lang said that they were among the best preserved samples to be unearthed.

The rings of the tree revealed that there were “growth interruptions that suggest a degree of climate irregularity”, he observed.

He published the findings, with Ms Henderson as co-author, in the Scottish Journal of Geology.

Source: Planet Earth website

Date: 13/05/2010

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