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18-Million-Year Old Petrified Trees Unearthed on Lesvos, Greece

lesvos petrified trees forest
The fossilized trunks were of both small and large trees and included branches of the trees as well. Credit: AMNA

Excavations for rainwater drainage pipes brought to light fourteen more petrified trees in the Petrified Forest on the island of Lesvos recently.

“The trunks were in a very good state of preservation—they are impressive logs laid on successive strata, one above the other,” said Professor Nikos Zouros, director of the Petrified Forest of Sigri Museum, speaking to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA).

He said that the fossilized trunks were of both small and large trees and included branches of the trees as well. They vary in age and are both conifers and fruit-bearing trees.

According to experts, the way the trees lie shows the intensity of the massive volcanic eruptions that occurred eighteen million years ago.

Professor Zouros said that based on the area’s geologic formations, it seems the site of the fossilized trees was part of an ancient valley.

The trees were killed by blasts of gas from the volcanic explosions and then covered by ash.

Extensive heavy rains then flooded the area, sweeping away both the ash and sections of tree trunks. The giant mudflows blocked valleys, and the tree trunks piled up in successive layers, where they became fossilized.

More trees are expected to be found as the digging continues.

The Petrified Forest of Lesvos was declared as a Protected Natural Monument in 1985. The Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest was created in 1994.

Fossils of mammals found in petrified tree forest on Lesvos

Two-million-year-old fossils were uncovered in December 2021 in the Petrified Forest on the Greek island of Lesvos in a surprise find that shows very large mammals including horses, cattle, deer, and antelope once grazed the verdant slopes.

The bones of these and smaller animals, including lagomorphs, resembling today’s rabbits, were uncovered at the site near Thermi on the eastern side of the island in an archaeological dig that has just concluded. The western side of Lesvos is famous for its enormous petrified forests, with mineralized logs from that era being found all the time.

This find draws special attention to the eastern part of Lesvos, making the island almost akin to a Jurassic Park, showcasing all the flora and fauna that once lived there.

Zouros tells Greece’s news service AMNA “The research revealed hundreds of vertebrate bones that lived on Lesvos during the geological period of the lower Pleistocene, that is, about two million years ago.

“The rich material of the paleontological excavations under study, testifies to the richness of the island’s fauna, [and] reveals important facts about the fauna and ecosystems of the Eastern Aegean and the connection of the islands with the neighboring Asia Minor peninsula,” Zouros explained.

Thus far, excavations have brought to light approximately five hundred identifiable specimens and many more fossils from undetermined species among the petrified trees of Lesvos.

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