Quirks & Quarks

Plant Fossils Reveal Dinosaur Era Forest Fire

Fossils of a 66-million-year-old forest-fire reveal how forests and fire interacted in the age of dinosaurs....

Fossils of a 66-million-year-old forest-fire reveal how forests and fire interacted in the age of dinosaurs.

Plant fossils found in southern Saskatchewan suggest a much warmer and wetter climate, 66 million years ago, just before the dinosaur extinction. The size and shape of the fossilized leaves indicate a mean annual temperature 10 to 12 degrees Celsius warmer than today, with six times more precipitation. But one of the fossil sites revealed something of a surprise, according to a new study by Dr. Emily Bamforth, a Paleontologist from the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Eastend. The plant fossils found in Grasslands National Park were of angiosperms only, which were found along with fossilized charcoal. Together with the absence of forest-type plant fossils, this suggests that a forest fire took place there. This indicates that forests recovered from fires back then, just as they do today.

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