A fire-scar was discovered on this petrified tree trunk found by Bruce Byers and his father over 30 years ago in Utah.
A fire-scar was discovered on this petrified tree trunk found by Bruce Byers and his father over 30 years ago in Utah.

Bruce Byers and his father discovered a petrified wood fossil on their hike through the Chinle Formation in Utah almost 30 years ago. Little did they know that their find, later used as a doorstop by Byers' father, would become the first-known fire-scarred wood specimen on record.

Byers recounts just how he realized the relevance of his find in a blog post. While doing research on an insect -- the Colorado fire moth -- and with the aid of a U.S. Forest Service ecologist and other experts he was able to identify fire-scars on trees.

Armed with this new knowledge Byers then noticed the fire-scars on the petrified tree trunk he and his father found so long ago. After a bit of research, Byers says he discovered that no one had ever identified fire-scars on petrified wood fossils before. Many paleontologists had never noticed these marks on ancient wood, perhaps because they were never trained to see them. "Without a 'search image' -- some knowledge of a pattern to look for -- we may look at things without seeing something that may be there," Byers noted in his blog.

Fossil Wood with Fire Scar Sparks InterestWith the results of his findings and the interest sparked, Byers teamed up with several scientists to research the matter further. According to Livescience.com their study will be published in the October issue of the Paleogeography, Palaoclimatology, Palaeoecology journal.

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