Saturday, February 23, 2008

31: petrified forest

From Twyfelfontein we drove in the direction of the Petrified Forest, which is located in the heart of Damaraland, 45km away from Khorixas. At this site there are trunks of 280 million years old fossilized trees belonging to the Cordaites family (a gymnospermopsida, an ancient ancestor of today's ferns and conifers).

Tourists are not allowed to walk within the main part of petrified forest by themselves, so to be able to get to the bigger pieces of trees we needed to hire a guide. Of course our guide was as useless as all other guides that we ever had in Africa and was not able to answer almost any of our questions. She was not even able to explain to us properly how this particular petrified forest was formed (if you want to know that go here).

Still, we did not regret stopping there, as keeping in your hand a piece of petrified wood is a very interesting experience. Those pieces are so dense, and therefore heavy, that it is difficult to believe that they are not regular stones. Moreover, many of these "wood-stones" have beautiful patterns, which were formed as a result of the presence of minerals giving them all possible colors.

Gecko warming up in the sun on pieces of petrified wood:

Minerals trapped within the trunk give it rich and varied colors:

The biggest of the trees found on this site reach over 30 meters: