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Petrified Wood Contains Oldest Fossilized Fire Scar
13th August, 2014
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After serving nearly 30 years as a doorstop for a nuclear physicist, a hunk of petrified wood from Arizona has finally been recognized as a one-of-a-kind find. The 210-million-year-old piece of wood contains the first fossilized fire scar ever discovered, researchers reported here this week at the Ecological Society of America's annual meeting.

Evidence for ancient forest fires predates the dinosaurs, but the clues come from charcoal, not from marks on fossilized trees. Charcoal remains of Earth's oldest fires date back more than 400 million years. No one has ever spotted a fire scar on petrified wood before, said lead study author Bruce Byers, a natural resources consultant from Falls Church, Virginia. That's because the scientists who study petrified wood rarely cross paths with forest fire researchers, Byers suspects. But Byers thinks more fossil fire scars will be found.

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