Muzeum Ziemi


The World of Plants and Climate Change

Our small exhibition presents evidences for global climatic changes that Earth has experienced in the last 65 million years. Fossils all around the world indicate that between 58 – 50 million years ago (late Paleocene – early Eocene) the ocean and atmosphere temperature were much higher than today. This climate episode is known as the PETM –Paleocene/Eocene Thermal Maximum. We present fossil plant remains from that period. The visitors can observe such specimens as leaf impressions and fragment of wood from Eocene of Geiseltal (Germany), a fruit of the nipa palm (Nypa burtini) from Eocene found in Schaarbreek (Belgium). Particularly interesting are leaf impressions from Chłabówka (Poland, southern part of Podhale region at the foot of the Tatra Mountains). Even those few presented fossils show clearly that most of the European continent was dominated in Eocene by evergreen, lush subtropical or even paratropical vegetation. The mean annual temperature could have reached up to 20°C! (now it is 8°C in Poland).

Visitors to the Museum can also admire leaf impressions from Paleogene of the Spitsbergen and the Antarctic Peninsula. Fossils from the polar regions emphasise even more clearly the scale of the Paleocene/Eocene global warming and provide evidence that cold and barren high-latitude areas were once covered by temperate forests.