Today, most of the remaining trees on Cape Breton Island, off the coast of Nova Scotia, are typical of a boreal forest. But during the Carboniferous period, which stretched from about 360 to 300 million years ago, the region was a subtropical swamp dominated by lycopids, giant relatives of today’s club mosses that could grow over a hundred feet tall.
The petrified, hollowed-out stumps and roots that remain today have been found to contain the fossilized bodies of many animals that populated the area at the time. Some of them are completely jumbled, while others are seemingly frozen in the position they were in when a flash flood covered them in sediment.
Now, the island’s fossil-rich cliffs have not only yielded