248 million years ago, during the Triassic era, there grew a tree which belonged to the genus araucaria. The tree grew in many locations, including the jungles of Mahajanga, Madagascar, where sauropod dinosaurs roamed. Stretching up to 60 metres tall, the majestic tree loomed over vast forests. Edible seeds sprouted from great heights, causing scientists to believe that the sauropod’s characteristic long neck evolved as a result of reaching for the highest leaves; this enabled it to eat and consequently survive competition with other herbivores.
Over time, the remains of these trees, more commonly known as ‘monkey puzzle’ trees, became fossilised in a process of silicification. The wood was replaced by jasper, and the most prized wood of all was replaced by red jasper. Jasper-substituted wood from the ‘monkey puzzle’ tree has an array of striking colours which make it perfect for interior design, as well as being an object of historical and scientific interest. Deep reds and purples are prevalent due to the wood’s iron and manganese content, and these gorgeous hues lend sophistication to Madagascan Direct’s object d’art. At Madagascan Direct we select the most beautiful wood pieces directly from Madagascar. Highly skilled lapidary workers carefully cut the ancient wood into spheres, slices, eggs, heart shapes, bowls, branches and logs and send it to our UK base. When the shipment arrives we ensure that our wood is of the highest quality, and that it is suitable for both décor and jewellery: at Madagascan Direct you not only have the opportunity to purchase display pieces, but fossil wood pendants, a wearable accessory that is hundreds of millions of years old.
This Madagascan species, auraucaria araucana, which is preserved better than its American counterparts because of its linear structure, is also native to Chile, and is sacred to the indigenous Mapuche people that live there. Therefore the wood has great spiritual and anthropological value. The monkey puzzle tree still grows there today, and is so important to the country that it is their national tree. Owing to the incredible age
of the species, the conifer is now termed a living fossil and
biological relict; however, it is unfortunately endangered. As the living monkey puzzle tree population declines, their Madagascan ancestors are also becoming rarer and rarer. If you’d like to own some fossilised wood whilst it’s still available, we hope our catalogue helps you find a piece that suits your tastes. Thank you.
Blog by Alisha Avis