In 2003, a small section of a large petrified log was found in a reserve forest at Ban Tak District, Tak Province, Thailand, by a villager. This lead to investigation in this area by officials of the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department and many such logs were discovered, leading to a name change of this forest to Petrified Forest Park, in 2006. The region where these fossils were discovered could be traced 1,000,000 years ago from the fossils and stone tools found in Northern Thailand, giving insights to not only prehistoric trees but also the prehistoric man, Homo erectus.
The longest petrified log measured 72.2 meters (237 feet), which suggested the original tree to be more than 100 meters (330 feet) in a wet tropical forest some 800,000 years ago. Interestingly, the highest trees nowadays in Thailand are only around 60 meters (200 feet) tall. The tallest, being a Krabak tree, belonging to the Dipterocarpaceae (tropical oaks) species. It was measured to be 58 meters (190 feet) tall.
(Courtesy of Marc Philippe, Université de Lyon)
Lead author of the study, Marc Philippe of France’s University of Lyon, explained that the trees appear to have been closely related to a species alive today called Koompassia elegans, which belongs to the same family as beans, peas and black locust trees. It means that these trees are not closely related to any of the tallest trees that still grow on Earth, like Eucalyptus (gum trees) of Australia or Sequoia (redwoods). Either of these living trees can reach about 130 meters (425 feet) in height.
Many other locations all across the globe have helped people sight an array of petrified logs and trees. The most famous of the world’s petrified forests can be found in the Petrified Forest National Park, located in northeastern Arizona State. The Lesbos Petrified Forest contains the largest plant fossils to be ever found in the world. The longest fallen tree trunk yet found in the Lesbos Petrified Forest measures 72 feet (22 meters) in length, estimated to be of a very great height of 100+ meters.
Source: Quaternary Science Reviews
Featured image: Log n°7, 38.70 m long (Credit: Marc Philippe, Université de Lyon)
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