Scientists may have discovered the oldest forest in the world, dating back to almost 400 million years. The new discovery provides evidence for how climate change has affected Earth’s environment over the years.
The forest, now fossilized near Cairo, was found to be close to 386 million years old. The recent discovery, first reported by Current Biology, is now the world’s record holder, beating out the previous record-holder by 3 million years.
Recent findings provide ecologists and scientists with a better understanding of Earth’s patterns and movements. “We need to understand the ecology and habitats of the very earliest forests,” according to Chris Berry from Cardiff University’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences. This fossil forest may have been one of the first areas on Earth to make the transition from early plants to trees. Most of the trees, which may have produced a different variety of prehistoric seeds, lost most of their roots during extreme climate changes.
The forest was really low on wildlife during that period. The forest’s primary residents were mostly prehistoric insects such as myriapods. It would be years before dinosaurs would walk the Earth and lifetimes before human interaction.
With the increase in technology and tools at researchers’ disposal, more and more findings of the Earth’s coveted forests are being discovered. With the resurgence of prehistoric forests, scientists learn about Earth’s past. Forests were one of the most transformative changes the Earth has made since its birth. Pre forests, Earth’s climate temperatures were soaring along with CO2 levels. Since forests came into existence, they have been vital to our ecosystem and way of life.
Today, over 31% of the Earth is covered in forests. Due to climate change and man-made problems, the percentage is dropping at an alarming rate. In recent news, the Amazon has seen over a 20% decrease in its forest over the last 50 years. According to The Global Forest Resources Assessment, the Earth’s forest area has, since 1990, a 1.6% decrease on the surface. The pace, in recent years, has since slowed.