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Coal Fossils

18 September 2022

I can remember my father talking about fossil plants he had seen as a teenager and young man working in a South Wales coal mine. It seems a lot of fossils have been found, or the imprints of plants in coal, have been seen in various parts of the world. Coal is essentially compressed plant material that has been buried during a catastrophic event of some kind, so it is no surprise that leaves and ferns appear regularly in reports, so common they are rarely mentioned by the media – or by the mainstream in general. They are run of the mill.

At https://www.miningandenergy.ca/mines/article/driller_finds_ancient_fern_leaf_fossil/ … An open cast coal mine on the Peace River in British Columbia has come up with a fern leaf fossil that is unusual in that it is completer, in pristine condition. It is fully intact. There are lots of Cretaceous plants in the coal seam but most are usually missing bits, as if they had been jumbled up and tossed around. Interestingly, the coal here is not entirely made up of compressed plants but is interspersed between layers of sand and silt, suggesting a watery graveyard. Mainstream assume the separated layers represent different time scales, and their interpretation is based on that assumption. The mine spokesperson adds, ‘nature’ is a good smasher. Something of an understatement. Mostly it is partial remains of leaves, twigs and stems.

At https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna18279510 … we have a fossilised rainforest found in a coal mine in Illinois. The find is compared to a Sistine chapel. There are no religious paintings but there are the preserved images of tree trunks and fallen leaves, and a diverse mixture of ancient plants going back long before the Cretaceous. It is literally a snap shot in time of what was in Illinois 300 million years ago. It probably covered, at one time, multiple square miles.

The roof of the coal mine contains the images. We are told some of the tropical forest must have been buried ‘in a flash’ – and a massive earthquake has been suggested. The same story is at https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-worlds-largest-fossil-wilderness-30745943/ … which provides quite a bit more information. For instance, the coal has already been extracted by miners and the roof represents the top of the coal seam. A riot of intertwined tree trunks, leaves, fern fronds, and twigs silhouetted against the overlying shale formation is what has excited geologists. The whole forest, not just a handful of trees and plants, is intact on the ceiling. The Illinois mine is a rare example of a whole forest buried all at once, we are told. It existed during or towards the end of the Carboniferous Period.

At https://www.huffpost.com/entry/springfield-coal-fossil-forest_n_1499981 … is again about the Illinois find but at https://www.huffpost.com/entry/primate-fossil-thai-coal-mine_n_4029156 … we have a primate in a Thai coal mine, dating back 35 million years. Coal was therefore being formed on a number of occasions in the past. We are told there is a mystery here as early primates are found in China and SE Asia dating back 45 to 40 million years ago. They are first known in Africa 38 million years ago. It is then assumed they migrated from Asia to Africa. This is where the problem lies. The way was blocked by the Tethys Sea – which was bigger than the Mediterranean. How did they get there?

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