Japan's oldest arboreal fossil found in Hirono

A museum in the Fukushima Prefecture city of Aizuwakamatsu announced on Jan. 19 the discovery of Japan's oldest metasequoia tree fossil found in an 88 million-year-old layer in the coastal town of Hirono. The discovery was made by Hiroaki Inose, a 37-year-old paleontologist and deputy senior curator of the prefectural Fukushima Museum. Metasequoia, also known as dawn redwood, was once believed extinct, but a colony was found in the hinterland of China's northeastern province of Sichuan about 70 years ago and the species has since been propagated worldwide. It is considered "a living fossil." According to the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo, the fossil is expected to be important in tracing the process of the evolution and distribution of the species in Japan, drawing attention as discovery affecting plant history. (Translated by Kyodo News)