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780,000-year-old wood from Gesher Benot Ya'aqov, Israel

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image of Israel Journal of Plant Sciences

780,000-year-old wood of the Early/Middle Pleistocene, from excavations at Gesher Benot Ya'aqov in the Dead Sea Rift, was examined anatomically. Twenty-eight genera of trees, shrubs, and climbers have been botanically identified. The most common among them were Fraxinus, Quercus, Olea, Salix, Pistacia, and Ulmus. Most of the identified plants represent typical Mediterranean vegetation. Remnants of almost all the identified species are still found in the region today, in spite of the dramatic changes that took place in the Holocene through the intervention of man. One species, however, could not be identified with wood anatomical data of European, Middle Eastern, or North African species. It appears to be a species that is extinct in this region.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Botany, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem


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