|Red Eft form of the Eastern Newt|
While I was down there, I also noticed another miniature form of a previously giant object: the Tree Clubmoss.
|A forest of Clubmoss|
This looks to me like a towering coniferous tree, but is in fact only five or six inches tall. Similar to how the red-eft looks like a prehistoric creature, the clubmoss has been around for millions of years and is believed to be similar to very earliest plants that evolved on earth. And in fact, their early relatives were 100 feet tall. They grew in giant swamps and pumped so much oxygen into the atmosphere that the O2 content was 30 to 35% versus today's 21%. This was during the "Carboniferous" period, so named because plants like the ancient clubmoss grew so abundantly that when they died their carbon loaded bodies were compressed into the coal and fossil (i.e. carbon) deposits we use today. Imagine this a forest of 100 foot tall trees.
Much of what I learned on the Clubmoss came from a report on the NH State Parks blog - you can read the full report here.
If you're in the woods this fall, take advantage of the temperate, bug-free zone to look for previously unseen sights - maybe you'll even find a troll residence hidden beneath a moss-covered stone roof!