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英国发现地球上最早的化石森林  

A fossilised forest comprising of fossil trees (known as Calamophyton), and vegetation-induced sedimentary structures has been discovered in the high sandstone cliffs along the Devon and Somerset coast of Southwest England. This dates from 390 million years ago which makes it the oldest known fossil forest on 地球 

One of the key events in the history of 地球 is afforestation or transition to forested 行星 following evolution of trees and forests in the Mid–Late Devonian Period, 393–359 million years ago. The tree sized vegetations fundamentally changed the land biosphere in terms of stabilisation of sediments on flood plains, clay mineral production, weathering rates, CO2 drawdown, and the hydrological cycle. These changes had profound impact on the future of 地球.  

英国发现地球上最早的化石森林
图片来源:《科学欧洲》

最早的独立树木化石属于枝木纲,演化于中泥盆世早期。这 枝叶藻树(calamophyton) 与中泥盆世晚期进化的早期木质植物古蕨相比,其木质性较少。从泥盆纪中期晚期开始,木本木质植物群开始在这片土地上占据主导地位(木质植物是维管植物,通过形成层产生坚固的木材)。  

在最近的一项研究中,研究人员在西南部萨默塞特和德文郡的 Ha​​ngman 砂岩地层中发现了以前未被识别的中多维尼世早期枝木洛普斯森林景观 英国. The site contains free-standing fossil trees or fossil forest dating from 390 million years ago which makes it the oldest fossilised forest known on 地球 – about four million years older than the previous record holder fossil forest found in New York State. The study sheds light on the impact of the oldest forests.  

枝木藻 trees resembled palm trees but lacked leaves. Instead of solid wood, their trunks were thin and hollow in the centre and their branches were covered in hundreds of twig-like structures that dropped on the forest floor as the tree grew. The trees formed dense forests with very high abundance of plant debris on the floor. There was no growth on the floor as grass had not evolved yet but abundance of droppings by the densely packed trees had a big impact. The debris supported invertebrate life on the floor. The sediments on the floor influenced the flow of the rivers and resilience against floods. This was first time in the history of 地球 that tree-driven changes influenced course of rivers and non-marine landscapes of the 行星 changed forever.  

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文献参考:  

  1. Davies N.S., McMahon W.J., and Berry C.M., 2024. 地球 earliest forest: fossilized trees and vegetation-induced sedimentary structures from the Middle Devonian (Eifelian) Hangman Sandstone Formation, Somerset and Devon, SW England. Journal of the Geological Society. 23 February 2024. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1144/jgs2023-204  

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乌梅什·普拉萨德(Umesh Prasad)
乌梅什·普拉萨德(Umesh Prasad)
科学记者| 《科学欧洲》杂志创始人编辑

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