Scott Wing had spent over 10 years in the barren wasteland of Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin, most of the time thirsty, sunburned, and on his hands and knees, burrowing perpetually through the soil. In any case, he had never discovered anything like the fossil he now grasped, which is a perfectly protected leaf emblazoned on a beige rock. Wing let out a glad chuckle as he revealed the second fossil and after that, a third. Each leaf was not quite the same as the others. This was a new thing to him.
This was precisely what he’d been looking for. At the point when these odd fossils shaped 56 million years prior, the planet was warming faster and more significantly than any time in its history – aside from the present.
Describing the moment in his office at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, Wing reviewed the uneasy response of the field collaborator with whom he’d been hiking. The young fellow looked justifiably apprehensive that his boss was shedding tears over a bunch of rocks.
He simply needed to acknowledge that he had been searching for this since he was a child. He’s absurdly cheerful right now, however, not insane. Along these lines, that was the first better-than-average set of plant fossils from the PETM. It was unquestionably a minute that he won’t overlook, probably ever.
The PETM stands for Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum and is viewed as one of the Earth’s best analogues to this age of modern, unnatural global warming. In a matter of a couple of thousand years, big amounts of carbon were infused into the air, making worldwide temperatures ascend between 5 and 8 degrees Celsius. The quick climate change disrupted the weather, changed landscapes, acidified seas and triggered extinctions. It took over 150,000 years for the world to recoup.