Quirks & Quarks

Ancient Tropical Forest Found in Norwegian Arctic

One of the earliest preserved forests from a time when the growth of new forests were changing the biology and chemistry of the planet.

New discovery is among the earliest forests in the world.

Artist's impression of the ancient forest (Dr. Chris Berry Cardiff University)
Listen8:37
The remains of a 380-million-year-old tropical forest has been identified in Svalbard, in the Norwegian Arctic. Fossil stumps of lycopod trees were found, still in a vertical position, in what would have been a very dense forest. (Svalbard was located along the equator in the Devonian period).

Professor John Marshall, a paleo-botanist from the University of Southampton in England, studied the fossils and determined that they were among the earliest forests on Earth.

The emergence of these forests helps explain changes in the Earth's atmosphere at that time. A huge drop in C02 levels coincided with the change in vegetation from small plants to forests of large trees.        

Related Links

Paper in Geology
- University of Southampton release
- BBC News story
Discovery News story