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World’s oldest forest discovered by Binghamton University researchers

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VESTAL (WBNG) -- Researchers at Binghamton University were stumped after discovering what they think is the world's oldest forest.

Cairo Forest, located in the Catskill Mountains, is estimated to be 385 million-years-old. Previously, the Gilboa Forest was named the world's oldest forest, and is also located in the Catskills. Cairo is just a few million years older than Gilboa.

"What we did see were evidence of a very large rooting system that were different than what we saw at Gilboa," said Binghamton University Emeritus Professor of Biology Bill Stein.

The team mapped the region, discovered an extensive root system, and found fossils that provided evidence of the forest's age.

"It's kind of like dinosaur footprints. The footprints actually give you a snapshot in time of the behavior of those animals. It's the same thing, it's like a fossil footprint of what the forests were like in a snapshot of time," said Stein.

The forest, researchers say, will help scientists determine when forests evolved, giving a clearer picture of the evolutionary timeline.

Stein and his research team hope to continue to search the Catskill region and compare their findings with fossil forests all around the globe.

Katie Jones

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