Illinois’ Recent Gateway to the Ancient Past

When ancient fossils are found , a glimpse into the past is discovered that allows researchers make conclusions about the way the world operated millions of years ago. Of recent, Illinois has produced a couple of interesting finds that deal with entire fossilized forests and interested ancient plant and creature remains.


Last week, it was revealed that one of the oldest conifer trees and ancient scorpion body parts are just some of the fossil remains situated within a cave positioned in the lovely state of Illinois. The latest discovery holds the key to a wealth of information that allows researchers to investigate prehistoric forest fires, as well as detect a couple of plant fossils that may have not existed previous to this find. Scientists are dating some of the specimens found within the cave at close to 315 million years old.


Paleontologists associated with the find are in awe, stating that the cave was found during a field trip that took students and a University of Illinois representative to the site, which is about 2 hours outside of Chicago. Normally, a buzz would stir regarding the limestone formations within the cave, which are about 450 million years old, but researchers are focusing their attention on the level of preservation that the cave brings. The plants and insects within the cave are well preserved , protected from the cruel elements of Mother Nature.


A lot of the biological finds are seen cushioned by charcoal, which indicates that the area underwent a fire that causing surrounding ancient trees to burn. Samples of the cave have already been taken so further analysis may take place. Additional gems calling the attention of scientists include the needles of a conifer tree that is dated 2 million years older than any other conifer specimen previously analyzed. Near-perfect remains of plant spores of lycopods have been found in the cave, which represent the main coal-forming plants that are usual for this time period. Scientists will also take time to investigate the general drying trend that seems to have taken place in the vicinity over time.


The cave is an even more spectacular discovery because geologists believe that estimates regarding its overall measurements places the underground depth of the site as continuing for miles, meaning scientists will certainly have their fill to dig through, which could take years to truly sift through.


Plotnick’s cave is one of the most two recent sightings that contain a host of ancient plants within the state of Illinois. According to the May issue of the journal titled, Geology, a coal mine located close to Danville was found to serve as the home of a fossilized forest that dates back 300 million years in time. The significance of this find deals with a wealth of evidence that showcases the details of ancient wetlands that also presents biological deposits that are about 3 million years older that the plant fossils situated in the mine.