What’s Old in the Neighborhood?

Some very old news from just down the road from me: scientists have discovered the fossil remains of the oldest known forest in Upstate New York:

New York State Museum researchers and scientists from Binghamton University and Cardiff University have reported the discovery of the floor of the world’s oldest forest in a cover article in the March 1 issue of Nature, a leading international journal of science.

Upstate NY and Cardiff, Wales? How likely are you to find that combination in the same place … wait a minute … hiya, Custador …

“It was like discovering the botanical equivalent of dinosaur footprints,” said Dr. William Stein, associate professor of biological sciences at Binghamton University, and one of the article’s authors. “But the most exciting part was finding out just how many different types of footprints there were. The newly uncovered area was preserved in such a way that we were literally able to walk among the trees, noting what kind they were, where they had stood and how big they had grown.”

Scientists are now piecing together a view of this ancient site, dating back about 385 million years ago, which could shed new light on the role of modern-day forests and their impact on climate change.

This part caught my attention:

But what the research team believes is most important about this particular site is what it was doing to impact the rest of the planet. At the time the Gilboa forest began to emerge — during the Middle Devonian period, about 385 million years ago – Earth experienced a dramatic drop in global atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and the associated cooling led ultimately to a period of glaciation.

“Trees probably changed everything,” said Stein. “Not only did these emerging forests likely cause important changes in global patterns of sedimentation, but they may have triggered a major extinction in fossil record.”

Major extinction? Yeah baby! Upstate New York: f$#king up the rest of the planet for 400 million years!

(and it’s not the only time we’ve screwed with the climate. When Glacial Lake Albany emptied, it may have dumped so much fresh water into the ocean that it caused a global cooling. Of course, that was 13,000 years ago. So we’re overdue for another go. Hey, what does this button do?)

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  • Custador

    Cardiff University?! That’s where I’m about to graduate from! Go Cardiff! WOOO!


    Incidentally, I also laughed at the Middle Devonian Period part, because I’m in the process of moving to Devon. On the Jurassic Coast, as it goes. Co-inky-dinks, eh?

  • trj

    It’s all a lie, of course, no doubt part of the atheist/evolutionist agenda aimed at undermining the biblical moral values of our society by pretending the earth is millions of years old. Everybody knows you can’t trust those carbon-14 dating methods.

    Or so my friend Chris told me.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      True, you could not trust C-14 dating on something this old. That’s why there’s Potassium-Argon dating, and uranium-lead dating, and many other dating methods, all of which give us consistent results.

      • trj

        I know, I know. I was just kidding.

  • Ben

    Major extinction? Yeah baby! Upstate New York: f$#king up the rest of the planet for 400 million years!


    I grew up in Ithaca.

    Thanks for the laugh.

  • Kodie

    I love stories like this. I grew up in the Mid-Hudson Valley region but since my family never took a proper vacation, we took the day trip to Howe Caverns twice (and the nearby Baseball Hall of Fame, never). I feel like New York State has a lot of the most beautiful geological features that anyone ever talks about is Niagara Falls, but a lot of places you could go have a feeling of pre-history in contrast to the modern New World History of the Erie Canal or the Revolutionary War sites.

    @Vorjack, have you been up the way to see Ausable Chasm? I moved up to Plattsburgh briefly just over a decade ago, and my mom came to visit and said we had to go there, it was something to see, and there’s a rapids ride at the end of the tour. Howe Caverns also has a boat ride, not really rapid, but deep underground is cool too.

    Thanks for sharing this story!

    • vorjack

      I haven’t visited the Chasm yet, but everyone tells me I should. Once spring gets here to stay I’ll try to make it. I love Howe Caverns, particularly during the summer heatwaves.

      On the list of nearby attractions, I suppose I should mention the fossilized stromatolites(*) at Petrified Sea Garden. Stephen Jay Gould was a fan. Apparently it was the first place he saw fossils in the field.

      (*) I think that’s the right spelling. Firefox suggests “stromboli,” which isn’t the same thing at all.

  • Sistermoon

    Ah my homies in Binghamton… We’ve known how to party for millions of years..

  • Jer

    Speaking of tribalism, I’m 2 valleys over…
    Lake Albany? Lake Hitchcock was way better.

  • http://theotherweirdo.wordpress.com The Other Weirdo

    So, all we have to do to avert global warming(ahem, we call it ‘climate change’ now) is to cover the planet in forests? Who’da thunk it?