“Scientists are exploring dripping passages by the light of headlamps, mapping out an ecosystem from 307 million years ago, just before the world’s first great forests were wiped out by global warming. This vast prehistoric landscape may shed new light on climate change today.
Dating from the Pennsylvanian period of the Carboniferous era, the forest lies entombed in a series of eight active mines. They burrow through the rich seams of the Springfield Coal, a nationally important energy resource that underlies much of Illinois and two neighboring states and has been heavily mined for decades.”
‘“Effectively you’ve got a lost world,” said Howard Falcon-Lang, a paleontologist at Royal Holloway, University of London, who has explored the site. “It’s the closest thing you’ll find to time travel,” he added.”
’”Such snapshots of the very distant past — tens of millions of years before the age of dinosaurs — are hard to come by. “It is extraordinarily rare to get fossil forests of any extent at all,” said Kirk Johnson, a paleobotanist at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. “It’s usually just a few trees here and there. But here is an ancient geography — effectively unheard of.”’