Many years ago I visited the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.
As it happened, there was a display of petrified wood—various wood disks that had been polished—and when I looked at these polished disks I did not even have to read the description of the wood. I did recognize the wood from a distance: oak, ash, elm, spruce….These pieces of petrified wood ranged in age from 14 to 65 million years old. And then it suddenly dawned on me that the trees we see around us today look the same as their forebears. How amazing and remarkable...
So I am sharing a few pictures with you. The fossilized tree was found in the Gilbao (NY) Devonian Forest. The Devonian Period dates back 3680-360 million years ago and the "Gilbao Tree" or Eospermatopteris trunk found in the late 1800s is one of the oldest tree fossils ever. Tree history is made on our doorstep in upstate New York!
Later excavations of tree fossils on the border between New York and Pennsylvania of tree stem and canopy foliage could be connected with the stem sections found in Gilbao. There is a small museum in Gilbao that is well worth the trip.
Let me add a few more pictures:
The foliage of a platanus or "sycamore" (Platanus wyomingensis). Immediate cousins of this tree grow in our parks and streets today.
Petrified oak, 15.4 million years old. A slab of oak, cut today is of the same structure, as is the petrified slab of a fir, same age. Take a piece of fir wood and compare.
And, finally, petrified cones of an araucaria, dating back to the Middle Jurassic period 176-161 million years ago.
Enjoy the tree and a Happy New Year!
The next blog posting will reach you from New Zealand.