Petrified forest yields more clues

Thessaloniki – The giant petrified trunks of 20-million-year-old coniferous trees were recently discovered during excavations of the petrified forest on Lesvos, adding one more valuable piece to the puzzle of a landlocked ecosystem dominating the Aegean region before it was engulfed by the sea. The greatest find made was a petrified tree trunk consisting of seven separate pieces and measuring 7.55 meters in length and 3 meters in width. This significant discovery has already been taken to the outdoor exhibition space of the Museum of Natural History – The Petrified Forest in the Lesvos town of Sigri. The same site area also yielded another four large tree trunks and, buried underneath them, a trunk that was smaller but perfectly preserved and without fissures. According to the management of the museum, the most interesting find unearthed so far is a tree trunk found at Lafi, complete with a mature root system and measuring 3.3 meters in length and 3.15 meters in diameter. What is also interesting about this trunk, the museum says, is that it shows the distortions caused by the lava flow that covered the forest and petrified it. The new finds will go a long way toward helping the paleontologists on the study put together a clearer picture of what this forest, which used to cover the entire area of Lesvos, looked like 20 million years ago, as well as to understand why and how it became petrified. «The climate of the Aegean at that time was much warmer and damper than it is today,» said Nikos Zouros, the museum’s director. «We can also surmise that the Aegean was a large expanse of land as well. Areas of the mainland became submerged as the level of water began rising due to intense changes in the global climate and geological activity.» So far only a small portion of the forest has been examined, as a part of it also spreads into the sea. «We are expecting many surprises from the investigation,» Zouros said.

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