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UWM geologist's ancient fossil discovery sheds light on a very different period of Earth's history

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee assistant professor Erik Gulbransen is on the leading edge of Earth sciences thanks to his discovery of an ancient fossilized forest near the south pole.

Prof. Gulbransen has been to Antarctica twice over the past year in order to locate and document fossils of ancient trees that would have existed near the time of Earth's largest mass extinction, around 260 million years ago.

The fossils show evidence of being from three distinct ecosystems. But what's really exciting to Gulbransen is they existed near a time when more than 90 percent of all organisms vanished from the Earth because of super-high atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Now, research into the fossils are teaching geologists and climate scientists more about what an Earth with super high concentrations of greenhouse gasses might be like.

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