12 October, 2016

Fossil Roots Over 235 Million Years Old

Fossils in the cliffs at Budleigh Salterton
Fossil roots, or rhizocretions in the cliffs. Photo: Mike Perry
While on a trip away recently we saw the red cliffs near Budleigh Salterton which are millions of years old - this is what can be seen:

About 235 million years ago, during the Triassic Period, ancient plants grew here amongst the shifting streams of a desert river.

The roots of these thirsty plants burrowed down into the soft red sand of the desert, drawing up any water they could find. Minerals that were dissolved in the water grew in crystals around the roots, encasing them.

As time passed the streams moved and the plants died but the modules that encased the roots remained.

What can be seen nowadays, in the cliffs, are fossil roots, or rhizocretions. Budleigh Salterton is one of the only places where they can be seen without having to scale the heights of the cliffs.

Always amazes me to see such things that are so very old. Our lives are but the blink of an eye.

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