The Ministry of Environment has shared the results of an excavation by a team from the ministry at the Ratanakkiri site of a petrified forest.

The site was discovered in 2019, and is located in Kaleng commune’s Sayos village of Lumphat district, about 50km from the provincial capital of Banlung.

The ministry said on December 26 that the team had arrived in the village to conduct a primary study in April of 2019. They had identified 35 fossilised trees in an area along the Srepok River, about 100m above sea level.

“These fossils are largely intact, and are worthy of further research,” it added.

According to the report, the plants were palms, similar to Borassus flabellifers, the large palms found throughout Southeast Asia, most notably around Angkor Way. The fossils date back to the area dates back to the Jurassic period of the Mesozoic era,some 201.3-145 million years ago.

Soeurng Khemarak, head of the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary Bureau, who spearheaded the work, said that following the primary research, the excavation work was temporarily suspended.

In 2019 and 2020, a team from the Department of Heritage at the General Department of Local Communities of the Ministry of Environment excavated several other petrified wood fossils in the area.

After extensive research and consultation with French and Thai experts, the previous specimens were identified as conifers, meaning they are distant relatives of modern pine trees.