20-Million-Year-Old Petrified Tree Trunk Discovered on Greek Island of Lemnos



A team led by Professor of Physical Geography Nikolaos Zouros recently uncovered the fossilized tree trunk, estimated to be 20 million years old, on the island of Lemnos. Photo: www.petrifiedforest.gr

A team of researchers from the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest recently discovered an 8-meter (26-foot) long tree trunk during their excavations on the island of Lemnos, located in the eastern Aegean.

The ancient fossilized trunk was unearthed in the small village of Varos, located in the central region of the island. According to experts, the tree is estimated to be approximately 20 million years of age.

Led by Museum Director and Professor of Physical Geography Nikolaos Zouros, the team of researchers had been for some time conducting maintenance and excavations of the site where the new tree trunk was found, an area which is similar to the Petrified Forest of Lemnos.

Recently-discovered 20-million-year-old petrified tree on Lesvos. Photo: www.petrifiedforest.gr

According to Zouros, the recent discovery is “indisputable proof of the value of Lesvos’ fossilized forest,” and reveals just how much ancient history the island contains.

The 20-million-year-old tree is believed to be a sequoia, which is a rare genus of redwood coniferous trees which are known for having some of the thickest bark of any tree on Earth.

Photo: www.petrifiedforest.gr

Asked about the petrified forests already known to exist on both Lesvos and Lemnos, Professor Zouros added that “standing and lying petrified tree trunks have (also) been found in the sea area between the two islands.”

The creation of the fossilized forest is said to be directly linked to volcanic activity in the region during the Miocene Era, 23 million years ago. There was a large amount of such activity during this time throughout the wider region of the northeastern Aegean and Asia Minor.

The Miocene Era lasted from 23 million years to 5 million years ago, during which the entire Aegean region experienced major volcanic activity. Photo: www.petrifiedforest.gr

Professor Zouros was very excited that the 20-million-year old sequoia tree, clearly showing striations in its bark, was so well preserved. “It is an impressive find of a fossilized coniferous tree for which we have an overall image of its dimensions,” he stressed in regards to the find.

Photo: www.petrifiedforest.gr

Considering various other findings on Lemnos, Zouros explained how the fossil evidence suggests that the island once had a subtropical climate, complete with palm trees and many fruiting plants.

Giannis Kavouras, the president of the Varos community, also helped in the excavation efforts alongside Zouros’ team and researchers from the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest.

Photo: www.petrifiedforest.gr

The petrified forest found on the island of Lemnos was declared a Protected Monument of Nature back in 2013, with the areas of petrification covering about 4.5 hectares (11 acres) in total.