What’s Old in the Neighborhood?

What’s Old in the Neighborhood? March 2, 2012

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?)

Via All Over Albany

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