Oldest Known Fossil Forest Discovered in Town of Cairo, New York

About the Oldest Fossil Forest

In December of 2019, there was a scientific study published about the discovery of the oldest known Fossil Forest in Cairo, NY. This fossil forest dates back 385 million years. It is 2 to 3 million years older than a forest discovered in Gilboa, New York (previously believed to be the oldest).

The study research team included William Stein, emeritus professor of biological sciences at Binghamton University; and Christopher Berry, a paleobotanist at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom. They published their findings in the peer-reviewed journal Current Biology.

The origin of trees and forests in the Mid Devonian Period was a turning point in Earth history. It marks permanent changes to ecology, carbon dioxide levels, and climate. The fossilized advanced root system is comparable to modern seed plants and suggests a unique ecological role. It is believed that a flood killed most of the trees in the forest and preserved the root system as fossils.

Protecting the Fossil Forest

The Fossil Forest is located on Town of Cairo property and is not open to the public. It is very important that we protect this area for future study, analysis and safe enjoyment.

On September 1, 2020 New York State Assemblyman Chris Tague presented a New York Assembly resolution to the Cairo Town Board. This resolution is intended to help the Town of Cairo protect this area for future generations. Chris Tague expressed “These are the types of things that make you proud of what you do. Having direct ties to the community, where we have good hardworking people and to find out something that no one knew. It’s very rewarding and it’s the part of the job that I love.” John Coyne Town of Cairo Supervisor notes, “Working together between the County, State and the Town, it will be a win-win for everybody”.

NYS Assembly Resolution

To learn more about the Fossil Forest, please visit these links:

Learn more about the Devonian Period: