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Projects in Indonesia

Looking deep at the largest archipelago country ancient forests

Fossil wood in Indonesia

Indonesia is the largest archipelago nation in the world, encompassing more than 17,000 islands, and is counted as one of a few mega-biodiversity countries. The vast area offers the possibility of fossil wood discoveries and identification, which is now still being understudied in the country.  The study of paleobotany in Indonesia was initially put in foundation by Ir. Yance Mandang, an expert from the Republic of Indonesia's Ministry of Forestry. 

Indonesia has large expanses of petrified wood from the very old period. The fossil of Araucarioxylon of Paleozoic (around 290-300 million years ago), which is older than dinosaurs, was found in Merangin, Jambi. Moving eastern, petrified trees cover several areas in Banten, which is in the western region of Java, Indonesia. The ancient forest was dominated by dipterocarps (trees with winged fruits) such as mersawa (Anisopteroxylon), keruing (Dipterocarpoxylon), kamper (Dryobalanoxylon), merawan (Hopeoxylon), and meranti (Shoreoxylon). The nearest living relative of Dryobalanoxylon seems absent from the present-day natural forests of Java, while the living relatives of other fossil genera are rarely present. In addition to the dipterocarp trees, fossil wood related to ketapang (Terminalioxylon, Combretaceae), kenari (Canarioxylon of Burseraceae, the Myrrh and Frankincense family), kempas (Koompassioxylon of Fabaceae, the bean family) and menjalin (Xanthophyllum, Polygalaceae, the Milkwort family) were also reported by Ir. Yance Mandang. His research as a wood anatomist has made a lasting impact on our knowledge of extinct plant diversity in Southeast Asia and Oceania, as well as of past climates throughout millennia. 

More recent research and expedition found fossil woods in:

  1. Central and East Java: e.g. Naucleoxylon spectabile in Kendeng Mountain, Shoreoxylon pachitanensis in Pacitan from Miocene era 

  2. Sulawesi: e.g. Hopenium sp. (merawan/hopea) and Shoreoxylon sp. (balau), with an estimated age of wood fossils was 3.6 to 1.8 million years before the present (between the late Pliocene and Early Plistocene periods) in Gorontalo

  3. Kalimantan: e.g. Dipterocarpaceae in Kutai Kartanegara and Shoreaxylon in Samarinda

  4. Flores: e.g. Shoreoxylon floriensis in Wae Wuul Nature Reserve, aged 19 million years ago 

With the large coverage that goes through between the Wallacean Line (across Sulawesi - Eastern part of Indonesia) that serves as a border for species diversity between the western and eastern parts of Indonesia, further studies in fossil wood might give a hint on this diversity evolution through time.

Some protection efforts have been initiated in some geoparks, such as Merangin and Gunung Sewu preserve them in nature, and some museums, such as Xylarium Bogoriense, Bandung Geological Museum, Indonesia Fossil Wood Museum (Gorontalo), and Sangiran Museum, preserve the specimens for public education. While fossil wood is largely being traded in the country for decorative and cultural purposes - and provides livelihood to many, more exploration and scientific expeditions are still needed.

Now that you know the sites where Indonesia has fossil wood, try to discover around you; it might be at the back of your home. You can also submit to us your discovery, and we can help to curate it!


Our Project in Indonesia


Mandang, Y. I., & Kagemori, N. (2004). A fossil wood of Dipterocarpaceae from Pliocene deposit in the west region of Java Island, Indonesia. Biodiversitas Journal of Biological Diversity, 5(1).

Suminto, M. M., Kurniawan, I., Aziz, F., van den Bergh, G. D., & Hobbs, D. R. (2008). Geology and fossil sites of the Soa Basin, Flores, Indonesia. Geology, paleontology and archeology of the Pleistocene Soa Basin, Central Flores, Indonesia. Geological Survey Centre, Bandung, Indonesia, 19-40.

Dewi, L. M. (2013, June). Penelitian fosil kayu: status dan prospeknya di indonesia. In Diskusi Litbang Anatomi Kayu Indonesia di IPB International Convention Center (Vol. 3).

Booi, M., van Waveren, I. M., & van Konijnenburg-van Cittert, J. H. (2014). Wood anatomical variability in Early Permian ‘araucarioids’. IAWA journal, 35(3), 307-331.

van Gorsel, J. H. (2014). An introduction to Cenozoic macrofossils of Indonesia. Berita Sedimentologi, 30(1), 63-76.

Eraku, S. S., Permana, A. P., & Hulukati, E. (2017). Pengembangan Potensi Sumber Daya Alam Fosil Kayu Di Daerah Gorontalo. Jurnal Pengelolaan Sumberdaya Alam dan Lingkungan (Journal of Natural Resources and Environmental Management), 7(2), 172-177.

Fauzielly, L., & Damayanti, R. (2017). Dryobalanoxylon sp.: a fossil wood preserved in the Genteng Formation from Lebak Regency, Banten Province, Indonesia. Journal of Geological Sciences and Applied Geology, 2(3).

Andreani, A. P. (2019). Eksplorasi Karakteristik Material Fosil Kayu Dalam Penerapannya Di Dunia Desain Produk Industri Kreatif (Doctoral dissertation, Institut Seni Indonesia Yogyakarta).

Oktariani, H., & Hamzah, A. (2019). Dryobalanoxylon sp.: Silicified Fossil Wood from Lebak Regency, Banten Province, Indonesia. Jurnal Geologi dan Sumberdaya Mineral, 20(2), 93-99.

Dewi, L. M., Damayanti, R., & Oktariani, H. (2020, November). In situ wood fossil from Gorontalo, Indonesia. In IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science (Vol. 591, No. 1, p. 012036). IOP Publishing.

Mandang, Y., Andianto, Oktariani. H., (2021). Paleobotany collections: fossil woods available at the Bandung Geological Museum. IOP Conf. Ser.: Earth Environ. Sci. 948 012002

Boonchai, N. (2021). Wonders of the Petrified Wood Museum. In U. Chittamvanich, I.B. Huegele (Eds.) The story of petrified wood around the world, history, fun facts, world famous people and petrified wood, gallery of photomicrographs, Bangkok: Lifestyle and Travel Media Co., Ltd., 100 pp.

Husien, N., Wahyuni, S., & Budi, A. S. (2021, April). Identification of Fossil Wood from Samarinda, East Borneo. In Joint Symposium on Tropical Studies (JSTS-19) (pp. 253-257). Atlantis Press.

Damayanti, R., Dewi, L. M., Ismanto, A., & Oktariani, H. (2021, November). Fossil wood diversity record from Merangin region, Jambi, Indonesia. In IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science (Vol. 914, No. 1, p. 012067). IOP Publishing.

Husien, N., Maulida, M., Hidayat, M. N., Budi, A. S., & Kasnadi, S. (2021). Ciri Makroskopis Fosil Kayu dari Tiga Desa di Kalimantan Timur. Journal of Tropical Ethnobiology, 128-133.

Harbowo, D. G., Nahar, R. N. F. A., Sari, D., Julian, T., Kuswara, T. A., Abimayu, R. A., ... & Huzaifah, S. (2022, July). The Significances of Cretaceous Petrified Wood Fossils from Padangcermin, Lampung in Paleoenvironmental Perspectives. In IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science (Vol. 1047, No. 1, p. 012016). IOP Publishing.

Husien, N., Hidayat, M. N., & Budi, A. S. (2023). Characteristics of Fossil Wood from Loa Sugarcane Kutai Kertanegara, East Kalimantan. Jurnal Multidisiplin Madani, 3(2), 453-463.


Protecting the World’s Lost and Ancient Forests

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