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Throughout Australia and New Zealand, fossil pollen called has been collected from Jurassic age sediments.

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Over the years, the trees have grown, keeping their original shape, but with their purpose all but forgotten as modern life sprang up around them.

Today, we may not need these “trail trees” to navigate, but their place in history makes them invaluable. Visitors to Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument can see examples of this practice in the many bent ponderosa pines to be found at the site.

Foliage of the just-discovered Wollemi pines closely matches these fossils.

Further evidence comes from live and fossilized pollen.

So next time you see a tree that looks just a little bit odd, check and see if it’s possible for it to be a trail tree — you may just find that you’ve stumbled upon a piece of living history.

) and forty-one species of cone-bearing trees native to forested regions of the Southern Hemisphere, including South America, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, and New Caledonia.Similar to araucariad pollen, it differed in its coarse, grainy coating.When compared with pollen from living Wollemi pines, there was a perfect match.Fossil evidence indicates that ancient araucaria forests resembling present-day species date back to the age of dinosaurs.Today, araucaria forests are limited to the Southern Hemisphere and are considered a counterpart to the pine and spruce forests of the Northern Hemisphere.These trail trees point towards Pikes Peak, which the local Ute Indians believed to be a sacred site. And in fact, looking for a strangely shaped tree isn’t quite enough, since each tribe created slightly different markers.


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