Question Sheet: Fossil Forests


Before reading:

  1. Where is the Arctic? 
  2. What is a fossil?

During reading:

  1. What was the Arctic like 45 million years ago? 
  2. Where is Axel Heiberg Island? Why is it interesting to Hope Jahren and her


  3. Why is fossilized wood important for understanding the history of a region? 
  4. Describe the difference between a deciduous tree and most conifers. 
  5. How did the darkness of the Arctic affect metasequoia trees? 
  6. How might studying the Arctic’s past help us prepare for global warming?

After reading:

  1. In what ways might global warming affect daily life in the area where you

    live? See 

  2. How is something being petrified different from being frozen in ice? Which

    process leads to better preservation? See


  3. Could polar bears, white hares, or mosquitoes have lived in the Arctic when

    it was warmer? Why or why not? 

  4. Why is the Arctic especially important when scientists study global warming

    and its possible effects? See Resources Defense Council). 

  5. What is petrified wood? Where in the United States can you find petrified

    wood? See 

  6. When did the Eocene epoch start? How long did it last? What sorts of animals

    were present on Earth at that time? See (University of

    California, Berkeley).


Locate Axel Heiberg Island on a map. Who named this island? To which country does the island belong? What is the island’s area? Do any people live on the island? If you were visiting the island, what sights would you see? See


  1. What if the weather in your area changed in an unexpected way? How would

    your daily activities change? See

  2. We care about weather because it says a great deal about a place, what could

    live there, and what it might be like to live there. Think about the plants you

    might expect to see on Earth, or how house construction varies from the tropics

    to the Arctic. So, weather and climate (the weather pattern over a year or

    longer) is something that should be considered by anyone building a world for a

    story. Try it for yourself. See



A hunter walks 1 mile south. He then turns left and walks 1 mile east, then turns left again and walks 1 mile north. He ends up back where he started and spots a bear. What color is the bear? See