What is Coalification?

What do coal and dinosaurs have in common? Well, the simple answer is the misconception that coal comes from fossilised dinosaurs. The reason why it is not true is because dinosaurs roamed the earth many millions of years after the Coalification process was taking place. 

A brilliant marketing campaign by Sinclair Oil Corporation probably didn’t help the situation. Back in 1933, Sinclair sponsored a dinosaur exhibit at the World’s Fair in Chicago. Their campaign stated that the world’s oil reserves were formed during the era that dinosaurs existed. The exhibit proved to be a success, with the company then tailoring a logo with an Apatosaurus (previously known as a Brontosaurus) as its mascot. Later on, when scientists produced factual evidence of where fuel actually comes from, people’s viewpoints changed. The brand is still around today, with the prominent green and red logo being one of the most recognised icons in America. So, this leads to the question: Where do fossil fuels, specifically coal, come from? 

Millions of years ago, the earth was covered in vast areas of swamp like vegetation. When this vegetation came to the end of its life cycle, it naturally fell into the swamps and natural water deposits. Due to a lack of oxygen, the decaying process stopped, thus preserving the vegetation. Over the years, the matter became compressed and caused a build-up of pressure. With pressure comes heat, these two factors cause a physical and chemical change. This transformed the vegetation into peat. Over many more millions of years this peat like substance is then formed into lignite and then into coal. There you have it! So, contrary to popular belief, dinosaurs aren’t at the source of what fuels our everyday lives. 

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