Spain has been experiencing some pretty bad weather recently. However, it turns out howling gales and battering storms can be beneficial in making fascinating discoveries, like well-preserved fossilized trees.
Scientists in Asturias in Northern Spain have discovered the prehistoric trees, which would have been growing in the area long before even the dinosaurs roamed the Earth, after storms washed away a significant amount of sand from the beach. According to experts, the fossilized trees are said to be more than 300 million years old.
— Enrique Coperías (@TapasDeCiencia) February 11, 2015
Tweet translation: “A storm in Asturias (Spain) reveals trees 300 million years old.”
The fascinating discovery was made on the beach close to the town of Arnao and consists of tree trunks which have been turned to stone, along with tree roots which were embedded in the rocks on the beach.
According to the Local, it apparently took a significant quantity of sand to be washed away before the fossilized trees emerged. This is due to the fact that the recent stormy weather has caused surges bringing waves crashing above the normal tide line. Miguel Arbizu, a professor of Paleontology at the University of Oviedo, found the find fascinating and said the trees were “perfectly preserved.”
— @FreRichRo (@frerichro) February 11, 2015
Tweet translation: “Trees from 300 million years ago were discovered on a beach in Asturias.”
Arbizu told the Spanish language newspaper 20 Minutos that it wasn’t just the broken fossilized trunks of the trees found on the beach, as the scientists also found the remains of upright trunks, petrified while still in a living position. He estimated that the trees date back to the Stephanian stage, which was somewhere between 304 and 299 million years ago.
“You can see the trunk and roots in the subsoil that date back 300 million years.”
Arbizu went on to explain that around 400 million years ago, Asturias was in the southern hemisphere and was apparently completely covered by a warm sea with crystal clear waters, well oxygenated and full of rich fauna. These days, the cold Atlantic ocean washes its shores.
He compared it to the current day Caribbean area and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, with plenty of plant and animal organisms “who were making their first steps out of the water on to the soil.”
What remains on the Asturian beach is a magnificent exhibition of the fossilized remains of the past, making an authentic open-air museum, which will now be protected as an area of geological interest.
In other related news, the Inquisitr reported a while back that fossils of the world’s oldest-recorded spider crabs had been discovered by scientists in Spain. The north of Spain is a treasure trove of amazing finds.
[Image: Arnao beach in normal weather conditions CC by-SA Pixoto79]