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An ancient mummified forest, complete with well-preserved logs, leaves, and seedpods, has been discovered deep in the Canadian Arctic, scientists say. The dry, frigid site is now surrounded by glaciers and is completely treeless, except for a few bonsai-size dwarf trees.
The forest was discovered recently by a research team who'd heard a surprising story from rangers in Quttinirpaaq National Park. The park is located on Ellesmere Island (see map), one of the world's northernmost landmasses. The Rangers had come across wood scattered on the ground from much larger trees than the few dwarfs currently in the area, including logs that were several feet long. The Park Rangers "had no idea what they were," but Barker suspected they must be millions of years old
"Finding wood that is millions of years old in such good condition—almost as if you just picked it up from the forest floor—will provide an exceptional opportunity," For instance the wood allows the team "to get the clearest view possible of what the world was like during a time when the Earth's climate was drastically changing."
I think this is a clue:
Originally posted by anon72
I think what would be more interesting is to determine what cause the demise of the tress.
According to that, they were so close to the edge of existence, as seen from the small size of the tree rings showing that they grew so slowly, etc, that it would only take a very small change in the climate to push it into a state where the trees could no longer survive.
The small number of species also suggests the ancient forest was "an ecosystem right on the edge of being able to survive," according to Barker. For instance, other mummified forests found farther south in Canada have a wide variety of trees. By counting tree rings in some of the logs, the team found the trees were at least 75 years old when they were entombed. But the rings were very small, showing that the trees grew extremely slowly.
Well if antarctica wasn't completely frozen yet, maybe it was just enough warmer back then to make this currently uninhabitable region slightly more inhabitable by those few species of trees? At least until the cooling continued which is probably what wiped them out, and froze Antarctica.
The Pliocene saw the continuation of the climatic cooling that had began in the Miocene, with subtropical regions retreating equatorially, the beginning of the large ice caps, especially in Antarctica, and the northern hemisphere lands and ocean cooling likewise. Antarctica was not yet completely frozen.