Gilboa fossil forest

Gilboa fossil forest

Gilboa Fossil Forest, New York is cited as home to the Earth's oldest forest. Located near the Gilboa Dam in Schoharie County, New York, the region is home to tree trunks from the Devonian Period, roughly 380 million years old. The fossils, some of the only survivors of their type in the world, are remnants of the Earth's earliest forests. This location has been of great interest to paleobotanists since the 1920s when New York City began a water project and escavation for a dam. The project turned up large upright tree stumps from a fossil forest, some of which are on display at the Gilboa Dam site and the New York Power Authority Blenheim-Gilboa Visitor's Center in Schoharie County and at the State Museum.


An international research team has found evidence of the Earth's earliest forest trees, dating back 385 million years. Upright stumps of fossilised trees were uncovered after a flash flood in Gilboa, upstate New York, more than a century ago. However, until now, no-one has known what the entire trees looked like.The ancient trunks were discovered around a hundred years from now and its mysteries remain unsolved. They were located along the coast of an inland sea that covered what is now the southern part of New York and western Pennsylvania. Scientists such as William Stein, associate professor of biological sciences at Binghamton University, and colleagues at the New York State Museum in Albany, NY, and Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, have found new evidence related to the Earth's earliest forests, like Gilboa, putting to rest some speculation as to what trees might have looked like millions of years ago. Stein and his colleagues believe the trees, which predate the earliest dinosaurs by about 135 million years, were more than 26 feet tall, with a system of frond-like but leafless branches at their very tops. The new finds have helped to determine that Eospermatopteris belongs to the Cladoxylopsida, a class of big vascular plants with spectacular morphology for their time.One reason scientists are so fascinated by these trees is that they were part of "aforestation," the original greening of the earth. That process had a major impact on the planet's climate, carbon cycling and, ultimately, what kinds of animals evolved in these ecosystems.

Dr Berry, of Cardiff's School of Earth, Ocean and Planetary Sciences, said: "This was also a significant moment in the history of the planet. The rise of the forests removed a lot of Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere. This caused temperatures to drop and the planet became very similar to its present-day condition."


The trunks have been studied by paleobotanists for centuries, but they can only guess what the top foliage of the trees may look like. Experts hypothesize the trees were giant seed ferns perhaps like a modern day palm tree. The fossils collected have been described as more than 12 feet long, which only demonstrates how big and complex these trees once were and how the tree tops once looked like.

Recent Updates

Nine 370 million year-old fossil trees are being moved to a new site one-half miles from the overlook at the Gilboa Dam, according to an announcement by Commissioner Joel A. Miele Sr., P.E., of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and Kristen V. H. Wyckoff of the Gilboa Historical Society. The rare fossil trees will be loaned by DEP to the Gilboa Historical Society for a new exhibit and educational kiosk on land owned by the Town of Gilboa.

ee also

*Devonian Period

External links

# New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
# [ Gilboa Historical Society]
# New York City's Schoharie Reservoir
# Gilboa Dam
# New York State Museum in Albany


#Staff Writers, Binghamton, NY (SPX) Apr 23, 2007 , [ Mystery Of Oldest Trees Unraveled]
#Geoff Ryan (718/595-6600), September 25, 2000, Rare Fossil Trees To Be Moved To New Site In Gilboa []
#Staff Writers, Cardiff. NY (SPX) Apr 20,2007, [ Mystery of Fossilized Trees Is Solved]
#Michael Hill, Albany, NY (AP) June 3, 2007, Fossilized tree found in N.Y. []
#Rachel Coker, Binghamton Univ.,NY April 19,2007, Volume 28, No.27., Faculty member helps unravel mystery of Earth's oldest forest []

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