American and Chinese scientists are flabbergasted after discovering a giant 298-million-year-old forest buried intact under a coal mine near Wuda, in Inner Mongolia, China.
They are calling it the Pompeii of the Permian period because, like the ancient Roman city, it was covered and preserved by volcanic ash.
Like Pompeii, this swamp forest is so perfectly maintained that scientists know where every plant originally was. This has allowed them to map it and to create the images above. This extraordinary finding "is like Pompeii", according to University of Pennsylvania paleobotanist Hermann Pfefferkorn, who characterized it as "a time capsule."
It's marvelously preserved. We can stand there and find a branch with the leaves attached, and then we find the next branch and the next branch and the next branch. And then we find the stump from the same tree. That's really exciting.
They are in fact finding entire trees and plants exactly as they were at the time of the volcanic eruption, just like archeologists in Pompeii found humans, animals and buildings at the base of Mount Vesuvius, near Naples, in the Italian region of Campania. Except Pompeei was buried in AD 79 and this forest was covered in ash 298 million years ago, during the Permian period.
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