Scientists Find An Ancient Forest Preserved In Ash

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American and Chinese scientists have discovered a nearly 300-million-year-old forest that was completely preserved by a blanket of volcanic ash in Inner Mongolia, China. Nicknaming the forest the 'Pompeii of the Permian Period' only seems appropriate. In an interview with the BBC one of the scientists explains why.

"Pompeii gives us deep insight into Roman culture, but it doesn't say anything about Roman history ... on the other hand, it elucidates the time before and the time after. This finding is similar. It's a time capsule ..."

This discovery gives scientists a glimpse into another time. This is close to what happened to the city of Pompeii in 79AD -- except when ash covered this area in Inner Mongolia flowers didn't exist yet and the earth only had one giant landmass known as Pangaea. Gizmodo has more on scientists' findings.

" ... they have identified six groups of trees ... Some of them are Sigillaria and Cordaites, but they also found large groups of a type called Noeggerathiales, which are now completely extinct."

This piece of land or "time capsule" is only about 11,000 square-feet and exciting for many reasons. The best reason in scientists' minds is that all the plants were preserved so well. A writer for Live Science points out why this is such a lucky set of circumstances.

"This preserved forest has given researchers the unusual opportunity to examine an ecosystem essentially frozen in place by a natural disaster, giving them a detailed look at ancient plant communities and a glimpse at the ancient climate."

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