One of the most interesting fossils to find is a piece of petrified wood. If you are fortunate while fossil hunting, you might discover limbs and sizeable tree trunks that have been petrified. This type of fossil wood is often age-dated by the particular formation in which it was found and someone may state that the woody plant grew, for example, during the Jurassic, Cretaceous or Devonian Periods. Thus you could assume that the petrified wood was actually millions of years old. However this need not be the case. Wood can petrify rapidly and likely it had to petrify quickly before the structure of the wood completely decayed. For instance, wood has been petrified artificially in the laboratory in a matter of days.

Wood can be preserved from decay for a considerable length of time if it is placed in an environment that does not contain oxygen (certain muds, stagnant lake bottoms, etc.). Wood decays much more slowly if oxygen is excluded. When wood becomes waterlogged and deprived of oxygen, decay is retarded. However to be petrified, the waterlogged wood generally must be buried under a silica-rich sediment. (Wood can be petrified in other types of sediment but the best preservation of original wood structure is found in siliceous petrifactions.)….

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