A new fossil park has been operating since last week in Akrochira area of ​​western Lesvos, just seven kilometers from the westernmost tip of the island, Sigri. This is one of the first sites that have emerged along the new Kallonis-Sigirio road axis and was implemented in the context of the largest rescue paleontological excavation that was carried out and continues to be carried out in the Greek area with methodologies and techniques that are an element of scientific interest internationally.

Speaking to APE-MBE, the director of the Museum of the Petrified Forest of Lesvos and head of the rescue excavations, Professor Nikos Zouros noting that the completed works in the new fossil park make this site accessible to the public and highlight the value and importance of the hundreds of finds that have been brought to light and preserved in their place of discovery.

Following the stone-built paths and stairs made exclusively from the volcanic stone of the region, one “climbs” the mountainside of Akrochiras and feels for the first time one of the most important results of the excavation research of Museum of Natural History of the Lesvos Petrified Forest which continues to reveal the richness of the island’s petrified forest. These are the five successive paleo-soil horizons in which standing petrified trees appear, documenting the occurrence of successive large volcanic eruptions that led to the petrification of an equal number of forests in Western Lesvos!

Visitors are surprised to find that the superimposed horizons of volcanic material from the great eruptions are now clearly visible and distinct, and within which successive petrified forests are housed. These are petrified forests of different age and composition that constitute a unique record of the flora of the Aegean region during the period of Miocene, 23 to six million years ago! This record was created by the catastrophic volcanic eruptions caused by the volcanoes in today’s western Lesvos, over a period of about three million years!

According to Mr. Zouro, “the new findings include fossilized tree trunks standing in their natural position with the root system in full development, large and small lying trunks of fruit-bearing and coniferous trees, the arrangement of which testifies to the direction of movement of the volcanic materials that they carried them away and created the impressive concentration of fossils that appears at the site.”

Among the fossilized trees, hundreds of branches of various sizes, twigs and a very large number of fossilized leaves have been revealed, revealing the great biodiversity that characterized the great subtropical forests of the area during the Miocene geological period.

“It is impressive”, Mr. Zouros argues, “the great wealth of different species of subtropical trees that are revealed in the area and add new elements to the composition of the fossilized forest ecosystems of Lesvos. Many new species are added to the list of species, most notably the findings of species of fruiting plant families such as palms, laurels, cinnamon trees, oaks, walnuts and many other plants, while the study of the huge number of fossils that have come from the excavations continues ».

It should be noted that the leaves as well as the trunks of the trees are systematically studied by specialist researchers who collaborate with the Museum of Natural History of the Lesvos Petrified Forest.

The excavations for the new findings at Akrochiras were carried out in the context of the Action “Construction / Upgrading of the Kalloni Sigri Road – SUBPROJECT 6: Research and work on fossils”.

The identification of the fossil-bearing sites is carried out with funding from the North Aegean PEP 2014-2020 within the framework of the action “Actions to identify protected areas of Lesvos”.