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- Geography, Nature & Weather
The Lost World: A Reality
Forest in China
American and Chinese scientists are amazed at what they have recently found in China.
Buried intact, under a coal mine in Inner Mongolia is a forest estimated to be 298 million years old.
Hermann Pfefferkorn, a Paleobotanist at the University of Pennsylvania, says that it is a “time capsule” kept intact by a similar occurrence as that of Pompeii, smothered and preserved in a layer of ash. However Pompeii was a result of a volcanic eruption in AD 79, the huge forest was buried in a similar eruption that took place about 298 million years ago, during the Permian Period.
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So far the 1000 square meter forest has revealed six species of trees, some as tall as 80 feet. At the time of this eruption no conifers or flowers existed, the trees reproduced in the same manner as Ferns, with spores.
In this period there were no continents, just one big land mass.
Amongst the trees found are Sigillaria and Cordaites but also found was a large group of Noeggarethiales, which are extinct today.
This goes to show that although most of the science world looks to the stars to learn more about our planet’s history, there is still a lot more that could be found at home.
Scientists now have better maps of the surface of the Moon and Mars, than they do of our Oceans floor or of the interior of the Amazon basin.
Millions of dollars are spent annually in search of forms of life in outer space, yet here on Earth of the 8.8 million species that are thought to exist, we are merely aware of about 1.9 million. That leaves about 6.9 million species not yet discovered.
So, you say, what difference could a couple of Fish, Bugs or Weeds make?
Any one of these species could be a “miracle” food, enabling the cheap and easy feeding of the planet or perhaps another could hold the cure for cancer or AIDS. That is not forgetting that hundreds of these undiscovered species are expected to be mammals, thousands amphibians.
When a forest of this size can remain undiscovered for so long, it must make us realize just how little we really know about our own planet.
It has now been discovered that beneath the sea bed lay huge deposits of gas in pockets. If just one of these pockets were to rupture, it could release more harmful gases into the atmosphere than CFC’s have been responsible for since the dawn of technology.
Although space exploration should not be forgotten, perhaps countries budgets should put aside some of that funding for the less appealing rediscovery of our own planet. Perhaps then, we may be able to preserve both our planet and our species long enough to see the day that we can truly achieve inter stellar travel?
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