Ancient Giant Trees Petrified in Thailand
by Larry O’Hanlon
Fossil trees that approached the heights of today’s tallest redwoods have been found in northern Thailand. The longest petrified log measures 72.2 m (237 ft), which suggest the original tree towered to more than 100 m (330 ft) in a wet tropical forest some 800,000 years ago.
The trees appear to have been closely related to a species alive today called Koompassia elegans, which belongs to the same family as beans, peas and black locust trees, explained lead author of the study, Marc Philippe of France’s University of Lyon. That is to say, the ancient trees are not closely related to today’s tallest trees, which are the Eucalyptus (gum trees) of Australia and Sequoia (redwoods) of California. Both of those living trees can reach about 130 m (425 ft) in height.
Interestingly, there are no trees living today in Thailand that approach the size of the ancients. “Highest trees nowadays in Thailand are almost 60 m(200 ft),” wrote Philippe in response to my email query about his new paper coming out in the April issue of the journal Quaternary Science Reviews. ”To my knowledge the highest tree yet recorded in Thailand is a Krabak tree, belonging to the Dipterocarpaceae (‘tropical oaks’), 58 m(190 ft) tall.”…
(read more: Our Amazing Planet)
(images: Marc Philippe, Université de Lyon)