In the Petrified Forest Park, the systematic excavation and research carried out by the Natural History Museum have brought to light many plant fossils, among which is the largest known standing petrified tree trunk not only on Lesvos but certainly in all of Europe. This trunk measures 7.02 m in height with an 8.58 m circumference. It consists of the lower part of the tree and has remained in excellent condition. The trunk belongs to the species Taxodioxylon albertense, an ancestor of the modern day Sequoia.
Furthermore, standing fossilized coniferous trunks which belong to the Protopinaceae family have been excavated and these are characterized by the excellent preservation of the internal and external structure of the wood. They belong to a new species,Pinoxylon paradoxum, first identified by Professor E. Velitzelos, and are widespread throughout the Petrified Forest. The excavations have also uncovered many pieces of fossilized plants (seeds, leaves, branches, roots) which are displayed in the museum.
The park offers three circular theme trails designed to facilitate and familiarize visitors with the petrified remains. All three trails share an initial first stretch called trail one, entitled “Discovering the Petrified Forest”, and along it visitors make their first encounter with examples of representative fossils. At the end of the trail, visitors can choose between 3 trails which lead to the major petrified trunks in the park
Along trail two, visitors encounter major excavation sites with truly impressive fossil remains which reveal interesting information regarding the stratification of volcanic rock covering the forest that existed in the area 20 million years ago. Trail two is entitled “The History of the Petrified Coniferous Forest’” and is essentially the history of the creation of the petrified forest.
Trail three constitutes the longest walk through the park. It includes the tallest standing trunks, the majority of which belong to the Taxodioxylon family. The sequoia, the tallest tree on earth, pertains to this same family. These trees were part of a mixed coniferous forest which existed in the region about 20 million years ago. Trail three leads us through the area where this forest once grew.
Trail four is of particular scientific interest as it runs through the location of the petrified remains of Protopinaceae, predecessors of today’s pine tree. Professor E. Velitzelos first identified a new variety of conifer Pinoxylon paradoxum and it is here where its holotype is found.
From the composition of the paleoflora scientists can conclude that in the extended area of the Aegean 20 million years ago there were mixed conifer forests and that the broadleaves and palms predominated at lower elevations. This knowledge also helps in determining the palaeomorphology which once existed in the region of the Petrified Forest.