Africa’s largest fossilized forest discovered

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It was the Portuguese Ricardo Araújo along with two other Mozambican paleontologists, who announced this week the discovery of the largest fossilized forest on the African continent.
Portuguese Ricardo Araújo and two Mozambican paleontologists announced this Thursday the discovery in the province of Tete in Mozambique of the largest fossilized forest on the African continent as well as the Permian period, about 250 million years old.

“This discovery contributes to the knowledge of how forests were in a period immediately before the extinction of more than 95% of life on earth, where ecosystems were totally destroyed”, Ricardo Araújo, a paleontologist at the Instituto Superior Técnico Of the Lourinhã Museum.

This finding is considered truly amazing for the scientific community, since “large, densely populated fossilized trunks have been found for more than 75 kilometers”, he said, giving an example of “trunks over 12 meters high, which means that the trees would be three times as tall and two meters in diameter”.

For the experts, this is the most extensive fossilized forest of the Permian period so far, found in Africa, about 250 million years old (before the period when the dinosaurs lived).

Paleontologists believe that the trunks discovered belong to the ‘Dadoxylon’ tree genus, an ancient classification in which many different species are inserted, which is why a more detailed study of the collected fossil material may not only confirm this hypothesis but, come to determine new genera and new botanical species. “The potential for new genera and new species to exist is great”, explained Ricardo Araújo, for whom “there is a need for reclassification” of what is already known.

This expedition, during which the discovery was made and Mozambicans Nelson Nhamutole and Dino Milisse of the Mozambican Geology Museum took part, took place between July 29 and August 17, which allowed the discovery of three new sites that Were still not on the route of the paleobotany of Mozambique as well as revisiting two others.

Mozambique is the country with the most records of fossilized Permian forests worldwide, and is also among the six areas of the world with the most records of fossilized logs, the remaining being South Africa, Namibia, Brazil, Antarctica and Zambia. The expedition was carried out in the framework of a cooperation between the Museum of Geology of Mozambique, Instituto Superior Técnico and the Museum of Lourinhã.

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