Field of Science

Amazing Preservation of a Permian Forest Redux

Here is the abstract and link (open access) to the previously mentioned article.  It is too bad that with instantaneous preservation of a Permian ecosystem that no animals are mentioned as found. I also mistakenly stated in my previous post that the site was in China. It is actually from Mongolia.

Wang, J., Pfefferkorn, H. W., Zhang, Y., and Z. Feng. 2012.  Permian vegetational Pompeii from Inner Mongolia and its implications for landscape paleoecology and paleobiogeography of Cathaysia. PNAS, published online before print. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1115076109 

Abstract - Plant communities of the geologic past can be reconstructed with high fidelity only if they were preserved in place in an instant in time. Here we report such a flora from an early Permian (ca. 298 Ma) ash-fall tuff in Inner Mongolia, a time interval and area where such information is filling a large gap of knowledge. About 1,000 m2 of forest growing on peat could be reconstructed based on the actual location of individual plants. Tree ferns formed a lower canopy and either Cordaites, a coniferophyte, or Sigillaria, a lycopsid, were present as taller trees. Noeggerathiales, an enigmatic and extinct spore-bearing plant group of small trees, is represented by three species that have been found as nearly complete specimens and are presented in reconstructions in their plant community. Landscape heterogenity is apparent, including one site where Noeggerathiales are dominant. This peat-forming flora is also taxonomically distinct from those growing on clastic soils in the same area and during the same time interval. This Permian flora demonstrates both similarities and differences to floras of the same age in Europe and North America and confirms the distinct character of the Cathaysian floral realm. Therefore, this flora will serve as a baseline for the study of other fossil floras in East Asia and the early Permian globally that will be needed for a better understanding of paleoclimate evolution through time.


  1. I think inner mongolia is northern china?

  2. An autonomous region of China, so both are correct.

  3. Er...sorry to have to say so, but your math is a little rusty, too. 1000 m2 is a little less than 32 m x 32 m. A square kilometer is 1000 m x 1000 m, or 1 million m2. So it becomes less surprising that no animal fossils have been reported (yet).


  4. *cough...cough* I knew I should have paid a little more attention in College Algebra. Why couldn't the U.S. have switched to the metric system like everyone else?


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