The Petrified Forest was proclaimed a National Monument on 1st March 1950, after two farmers discovered it in the 1940s. It can be found about 50km west of Khorixas. Unlike the name suggests it is not exactly a forest that has been turned to stone, but rather an accumulation of huge fossilised tree trunks that are about 300 million years old. Scientists believe that these trunks did not actually ever grow in what is known as Namibia today, but were washed down a river long ago when one of the many Ice Ages ended on the Gondwana continent. It is believed that a huge flood caused by the ending of this Ice Age washed the trunks down to where they lie today. The flood also carried with it so much sand and mud that it covered the trunks to such an extent that no air could reach them and as a result decay was prevented and the organic substance of the trunks was preserved. Due to enormous pressure over the millions of years that have passed, the structure of the wood has been dissolved by silicic acid and replaced by quartz, which is silicic acid in crystalline state. This gives us the immaculately preserved and petrified trunks you can see today. As well as these ancient petrified tree trunks, you can also find specimens of the Welwitschia Mirabilis here. This long-living plant is often called a living fossil due to it's long life and is endemic to the Namib Desert.

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