Friday, June 14, 2024

World’s oldest forest found on UK coastline home to Butlin’s holiday park

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BRITS heading to a Butlin’s holiday camp this year can also pay a trip to the site of the world’s oldest forest.

For the last five years, a fossil forest in upstate New York had been considered to be the oldest-known forest on the planet.

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The fossils of the forest were found near Minehead Butlin’sCredit: PA
The fossils revealed the oldest forest in the world was in the UK

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The fossils revealed the oldest forest in the world was in the UKCredit: PA
Butlin's Minehead's visitors can visit the site of the forest on the coast

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Butlin’s Minehead’s visitors can visit the site of the forest on the coastCredit: Alamy

However, a new discovery made in England earlier this year shows that forests were growing on the south coast around 390 million years ago.

The new found forest, the remains of which were uncovered back in March, is about four million years older than the previous record holder from the US.

Scientists uncovered what they believe to be the world’s oldest fossil forest hidden in the cliffs along the Devon and Somerset coast.

The fossil forest dates back to the Devonian Period, 419 million to 358 million years ago, when life on earth was experiencing massive changes.

The fossilised trees were uncovered in the Hangman Sandstone Formation near Minehead, close to the Butlin’s holiday camp.

These formations are found along the South West Coast Path, looking out over the sea.

Researchers from both Cardiff and Cambridge Universities said the palm-like plants would have had thin trunks with hollow centres and wouldn’t have looked like woodland does now.

Professor Neil Davies, from the Cambridge Department of Earth Sciences, said: “This was a pretty weird forest, not like any forest you would see today.”

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He added that undergrowth and grass were yet to appear. Instead, twigs dropped by the trees had a “big effect” on the landscape.

Davies said life was changed “fundamentally” during the Devonian period when the interaction between water and land altered.

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“Trees and other plants helped stabilise sediment through their root systems,” he added.

“But little is known about the very earliest forests.

“The evidence contained in these fossils preserves a key stage in earth’s development, when rivers started to operate in a fundamentally different way than they had before, becoming the great erosive force they are today.”

Scientists had previously assumed the stretch of coast in southwest England did not contain significant plant fossils.

Five new water attractions opening in the UK next year

  1. Therme Manchester will have 25 swimming pools, 25 water slides and an indoor beach.
  2. Modern Surf Manchester will be a surfing lagoon offering lessons to both beginners and experts.
  3. Chessington World of Adventures waterpark is set to have wave, infinity and spa pools as well as waterslides and cabanas.
  4. The Cove Resort, Southport is likely to have a water lagoon and a thermal spa with steam rooms and saunas.
  5. The Seahive, Deal plans to be the “surfing wellness resort” in the UK.

Researchers say their findings, published in the Journal of the Geological Society, show how ancient trees helped stabilise riverbanks and coastlines.

They also add an extra natural attraction for visitors to the popular holiday region.

Butlin’s Minehead resort overlooks the coast not far from where the fossils were found and visitors staying at the resort can explore the area, knowing about its fascinating history.

The area is known among fossil hunters as a great place to discover evidence of animals from millions of years ago, with the nearby Kilve beach among the more popular spots.

Davies added: “People sometimes think British rocks have been looked at enough but this shows that revisiting them can yield important discoveries.”

Meanwhile, this beach in the north of England is also a fossil hunters’ hotspot.

And some people say that this beach is like being on the moon.

The holiday resort is a popular place for families to go

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The holiday resort is a popular place for families to goCredit: Wayne Perry – The Sun
The fossils were found in cliffs overlooking the South West Coast Path

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The fossils were found in cliffs overlooking the South West Coast PathCredit: PA

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