Scientists Have Found The Oldest Wildfires on Record, Dating Back 430 Million Years

Italy’s Drought Is Now So Intense, Old Shipwrecks Are Starting to Emerge

A historic drought affecting Italy’s largest river has brought a World War II-era shipwreck to light.

A heron stands on the now exposed sunk ship. (Piero Cruciatti/AFP/Getty Images)

The Po River runs 405 miles (651.8 km) from the Cottian Alps to empty into the Adriatic Sea. It’s currently facing its worst drought in 70 years, which has caused a decades-old sunken ship to resurface.

The Zibello, a 160-foot (48.8-meter) barge that transported wood in World War II and sank in 1943, is usually hidden beneath the Po’s waters, the Associated Press reports. Now, the river’s water levels are so low that the wreckage is visible to onlookers…READ ON

Scientists Have Found The Oldest Wildfires on Record, Dating Back 430 Million Years

Scientists have tracked down the oldest wildfires ever detected thanks to 430-million-year-old charcoal deposits from Wales and Poland. They give us valuable insight into what life on Earth was like during the Silurian period.

“That the fires were able to propagate and leave charcoal deposits suggests that Earth’s atmospheric oxygen levels were at least 16 percent, the researchers say. Today, that level is at 21 percent, but it has varied dramatically during the course of Earth’s history.” 

Back then, plant life would have depended heavily on water to reproduce and most probably wouldn’t have appeared in regions that were dry for part or all of the year. The wildfires discussed in the study would have burned through very short vegetation, plus the occasional knee- or waist-high plant.

The landscape would have been dominated not by trees but by the ancient fungus Prototaxites, the researchers say. Not too much is known about the fungus, but it’s thought to have been able to grow as high as nine meters (or almost 30 feet) tall…READ ON

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