Researchers Discovered Fossils Of An Alien-Like Tree That Had Leaves Reaching Six Feet Long And Was Extremely Well-Preserved Due To An Earthquake 350 Million Years Ago

J Duquette - - illustrative purposes only

In New Brunswick, Canada, researchers discovered fossils of a prehistoric tree from the Early Carboniferous period. Evidence of the alien-like tree was first unearthed in a quarry in 2017.

Over the years, four more fossils were found. The tree was named Sanfordiacaulis densifolia. One of the specimens was so well-preserved that scientists were able to construct a three-dimensional model of what the tree once looked like.

Sanfordiacaulis densifolia had a long, spindly, narrow trunk and a crown of leaves that may have measured 18 feet in diameter. Its branches likely extended outward to intertwine with nearby trees so it could stay upright. It grew underneath a bunch of taller trees, so it had to stretch wider to receive sunlight.

“When my co-authors and I began to reconstruct the tree based on the specimens collected in Sanford quarry, the only analog we could think of was an oversized toilet or bottle brush,” Robert Gastaldo, the lead author of the study, said.

The researchers estimate that Sanfordiacaulis densifolia had more than 250 leaves. From the fossilized specimens they analyzed, they found that the leaves reached six feet long, but they most likely grew even longer.

Its appearance resembles a fern or palm tree, although the oldest tree fern fossil is younger, and palm trees wouldn’t show up in the fossil record for another 240 million years.

It is thought that Sanfordiacaulis densifolia was so well-preserved due to an earthquake that occurred about 350 million years ago.

The trees grew at the edge of a lake in a territory that was prone to earthquakes. They fell into the lake after being uprooted by an earthquake and were quickly covered in mud.

The fact that the foliage was preserved while it was still alive allowed for the Sanfordiacaulis densifolia fossils to take on a three-dimensional nature.

J Duquette – – illustrative purposes only

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