volcanic ash forest 300 million year old  china

A reconstruction of the 300-million-year-old peat-forming forest at a site near Wuda, China. (c) University of Pennsylvania

There’s some good coming off China’s extensive coal exploitation (the nation holds the top place for most pollutant emissions resulting from burning coal), as recent mining activities around Wuda in Inner Mongolia, China, has uncovered an almost perfectly preserved 298 million year-old forest. The forest, which also features intact trees with leaves, branches, trunk and cones, was buried by volcanic ash, and thus kept away from time’s unforgiving touch.

The researchers dubbed the forest the “Pompeii of the Permian period, since the manner in which it was preserved bared a striking resemblance to the famous Roman namesake event. The volcanic ash covered a large expanse of forest over the course of only a few days, ultimately sealing it away from time until present day.

The plant fossils were so well preserved, that scientists actually surprised many specimens in a falling stance, next to where they used to grow.

“It’s marvelously preserved,” says University of Pennsylvania paleobotanist Hermann Pfefferkorn.

“We can stand there and find a branch with the leaves attached, and then we find the next branch and the next branch and the next branch. And then we find the stump from the same tree. That’s really exciting.”

The researchers discovered in total a 10,763-square-foot area hidden under a coal mine using heavy industrial machinery. In all, they identified six groups of trees, some up to 80 feet high, with tree ferns forming a lower canopy. Remarkably enough, they had the good luck of finding nearly complete specimens of a group of trees called Noeggerathiales – extinct spore-bearing trees, closely related to ferns.

The ash layer was dated from around 298 million years ago, the beginning of the Permian period ( 299 to 251 million years ago). During that time, the planet’s continental plates were still coming together to form the super-continent Pangaea, and  the first groups of mammals, turtles, lepidosaurs and archosaurs started to roam the Earth.

“This is the first such forest reconstruction in Asia for any time interval, it’s the first of a peat forest for this time interval and it’s the first with Noeggerathiales as a dominant group,” says Pfefferkorn. “It’s a time capsule.”

The results of their findings have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


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  • Johnccollier

    Forests have animals. I wonder if they may find some of those?

  • BrianaMeister

    I thought that at first, but then the article said “…and the first groups of mammals…started to roam the Earth.” So maybe they won’t discover animals so much, but hopefully insects?

  • Charles Spurrill

     >implying insects aren’t animals

  • Gezzer

    If it happened over a few days, as they think it did, I’d be really surprised if anything mobile didn’t escape. I think Pompeii happened over a much shorter period to capture people. Could be wrong though.

  • This is where we find the Stargate..

  • pics or it didn’t happen!

  • Jerry

    The planet is only roughly about 2000 yrs. What a lie

  • 6000, get it right!

  • Quiznos_10

    yeah.. ok.. lol

  • brianmacker

    “There’s some good coming off China’s extensive coal exploitation”

    Yes, it is called coal and it provides energy to the Chinese living there so they can improve their standard of living. Do you think that is a bad thing and that only white people should get to use coal?

  • John Bill

    Santorum said it is just a lie cooked up by Satan to trick you into turning your back on Jesus.

  • GFS

    I think he meant some good versus the massive amount of pollution that’s being created. But way to play the race card!

  • jake

    ha! good one guy

  • NozQ

    Nobody should use coal.

  • Amazing!!

  • nitritewins

    Forget about that bullshit: http://goo.gl/obiC

  • YepYep

    well it must be unless they prove that those trees reproduced via missionary style only….

  • no, implying they aren’t mammals, you clever boy, you

  • Pics or it didn’t happen.

  • no to COAL! Yes to CHARCOAL!!

  • Bruce Cooper

    picture’s and more info here! > http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2104771/Chinese-Pompeii-300m-year-old-forest-preserved-volcanic-ash-Wuda.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

  • Mo-bombhead

    Hey atheists,

    If there was more oxygen in Pangea, why didn’t the sun burn more hot??


  • Aguiluz87

    hummanity has 6000 yrs, we dont know how much the world has, the bible says that in the beginning the world was desorganized and empty, we dont know if the humanity was created right after God organized the world.

  • Guest

     Yeah… try approximately 200,000 years ago…

  • Saintatavar

    Hey christan ,
    Go back to school to take sicence and grammer.


  • Laughable

    In other news, the earth is flat, and is the center of the universe.

  • AK

    * science
    * grammar


  • Abuse

    because the sun isn’t now nor was it ever in the earth’s atmosphere, moron

  • 0nly_downvotes


    Come on man, step it up.

  • aric gardner

     Of course not, now run home and disconnect your electricity.

  • Of course the sun burned hotter 300 million years ago then it did today. But then 300 million years ago pollution and human disposability, stupidity and hubris hadnt cracked the ozone. Is this where I say CHECK CHECK MATE? What a silly, antagonistic, egotistical, I am right you are wrong question. You sound like a child. ha ha ha ha ha. If youre an adult, the mentality you are showing isnt becoming. Science is about LEARNING NEW THNGS! When you keep such a closed mind and mentality you learn NOTHING!

  • Thank you for the article, Bruce. I wish I was able to see these amazing finds. The things our earth tells us, just waiting to be listened to and interpreted. Wonderful adventures still to come.

  • ChiSean

    How do you know if burned hotter 300 million years ago? It was still in it’s yellow phase then and thus probably about the same temperature.

  • Epyonfencer

    Nice try, Rick Santorum.

  • yet another guest

    Well good thing the Bible is fiction and not real historical documentation. 

  • Donovan

    What are you trying out for another remake of Dumb and Dumber?

  •  His reply is an imitation of a satirical video series done by an atheist.

  • ImplodingDreams

    300 MILION? how did they get a number for that far back?

  • Chris

    In no way is that checkmate.

  • Msbrules08

    Carbon dating

  • As if humans would need any help from satan. 

  • Philgood

    HAHAHAHA good one. cant believe some people think the Earth is only about 2000yrs old

  • Philgood

    Earth = 4.7Billion Yrs old. No ones knows when man came around. Bible = storybook to keep retards in line.

  • Brutix

     Radiometric dating* carbon-14 has a half-life of 5730 years and is only effective in aging materials less than 60,000 years old.

  •  *Christian

    I win ;]

  • Keegan

    um duhhhh

  • Anon

    geologically 4.5 billion appx. give or take a few million

  • Bill St Jay

    If these trees are 300 million years old and over time evolved into coal and man is only 6,000 years old, then does that mean evolution stopped when man was created?

  • Rtay12345
  • Real or not, people fight over it…

    I personally enjoy that you don’t have to get but 20 chapters into Genesis to understand that Abraham was a major scam artist and that his “God” was likely a invented device of that scam.You see… according to the story, he repeatedly marries his beautiful wife off to Kings and Pharaohs… (for the dowry)…telling them that she’s his sister. Then comes clean by telling them about the fact that she is actually his wife, and tells them how his God frowns upon people who marry already married women… but justifies his lie by telling them that he felt he had no other choice because as a stranger in their land, he felt they’d kill him to take her from him… and that God would punish them either way.  So out of fear of his mysterious God, they give him land, livestock and gold or silver to compensate for their accidental transgression against him and then let him go.The fact that the Christians, Jews and the Muslims are pissy with each other about whether Isaac (Judeo-Christians) or Ishmael (Muslims) should be the rightful heir to Abraham’s legacy/kingdom (which he built with the material wealth he gained from scamming kings and local rulers from Egypt to Syria) over the dispute of first born’s rites is beyond retarded.  You see, Ishmael was born before Isaac, but Ishmael was born from the extramarital affair with his wife’s egyptian servant… thus, technically Ishmael is illegitimate and therefore not entitled to be Abraham’s heir.And that’s really what the religions are fighting amongst themselves over…

    So stupid.

  • brianmacker

    Oh, so running your computer, lights, etc. doesn’t count as some good? Get the F off your computer right now you hypocrite.

  • I’m bored

    That awkward moment when atheists know more about the bible than I do….