January 4, 2008
France Used to Be a Jungle
Where the Champs Elysee, the Eiffel Tower and sprawling vineyards now stand, there might once have been an Amazon-like jungle.
A new analysis of amber fossils collected in France suggests that the country was once covered by a dense tropical rainforest.
Amber from different sites tends to have different chemical compositions.
The new study, detailed in the Jan. 4 issue of The Journal of Organic Chemistry, reports the discovery of a new organic compound in amber called “quesnoin,” whose precursor exists only in sap produced by a tree currently growing only in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.
“The region corresponding to modern France could have been found in a geographically critical marshy zone belonging to Africa and a tropical zone 55 million years ago extending through North Africa to the Amazon,” the authors wrote.