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290-Million-Year-Old Tree Fossils Found in Brazil

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Scientists have found fossils of trees estimated to be 290 million years old in the southern Brazilian state of Paraná. It concerns a forest of 164 fossils of an extinct species of lycophytes, which reproduce via spores.


The fossilized forest was accidentally discovered in late 2018, during a geological survey for the construction of a road to a factory. Subsequently, scientists from the universities of Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul (southern state of Brazil) and the University of California at Davis (USA) started a study, the results of which were published in February in the journal ‘Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology’ and more recently were picked up by Brazilian media.

According to Thammy Mottin, a geologist at the University of Paraná, it is “the most important discovery in the southern hemisphere” in terms of the quantity and condition of the fossils. Previously, scientists had made similar discoveries in the southern hemisphere, particularly in the Rio Grande do Sul and Argentine Patagonia, but these were smaller finds.

The fossils are “a window into the past” for studying plant evolution. “These plants, estimated to be 290 million years old, are very primitive life forms in history,” Mottin said. The forest, which grew near what is now the town of Ortigueira, “shows how the first plants spread, how they were distributed in space, and what their interactions were like” with other life forms.

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