Rare tree trunk turns into rock over time

The fossil was excavated by GSI from Pranhita Godavari Basin in Adilabad and over a period of time the wood was transformed into a rock-like structure.

By Author   |   Published: 19th May 2017   10:59 pm
Tree Trunk
175 million year old fossil conifer wood at Saifabad PG College. Photo: Abhinay Deshpande

Hyderabad: It withstood the vagaries of time and survived many millennia. And even now, in a less frequented corner of Post Graduate College of Science in Saifabad, this hardened piece of wood from a bygone era stands in perfect shape.

A fossil conifer wood of Araucarioxylon species, which is more than 175 million years old and is said to belong to the early Jurassic sediments, is placed near the geology department of the college. The wooden trunk was gifted to the college by Geological Survey of India (GSI), Southern Region, nearly 20 years ago.

“Wooden fossils occupy a prominent position in our college. This one was unveiled in 1998 by the then Osmania University vice-chancellor Prof V Ramakistayya,” says K Sreenu, head of the geology department.

The fossil was excavated by GSI from Pranhita Godavari Basin in Adilabad and over a period of time the wood was transformed into a rock-like structure, he said. “Araucarioxylon arizonicum is an extinct species of conifer fossil and this species is known from massive tree trunks, which were used as building material,” Sreenu said, adding this was a fossil of one of the strongest woods known.

Due to large variety of colours, this petrified wood was frequently referred as ‘rainbow wood’, with the height of the tree estimated to be around 200 feet and its diameter more than two feet. “Fossil woods are often seen with several boreholes of insect larvae, but this one is different and strong. Due to several chemical reactions near the river for millions of years, this trunk transformed into rock,” Sreenu says.