Monday, November 08, 2021

Paleo in Pop Culture - Hollywood Studios' Galaxy's Edge


Although not dinosaur related, there is another strong paleontological connection in Hollywood Studios and that involves the entire backdrop of the Star Wars Galaxy's Edge land within the park. 

The entire park of Galaxy's Edge takes place within the canon of Star Wars on a planet named Batuu. This settlement on Batuu is known as Black Spire Outpost, named after the spires located throughout the backdrop and within the park itself, specifically one spire in particular that is blacker than the other spires. Here is the blurb from
"Widely known for the petrified remains of its once towering ancient trees, the spires now stand guard across the river valleys and plains and have long captured the imagination of travelers to this planet."
In canon, these spires are petrified trees that were petrified in place, where the tops of the trees were not preserved (either they eroded away over time or only the bottoms were petrified and the tops decayed before preservation). Petrification is a specific type of fossilization that refers to trees. This process involves the replacement of each living/biological molecule with mineral molecules. 

The replacement process, or permineralization, occurs when minerals dissolved in water, frequently silica in the instance of petrification, flow through the water and do a (typically) 1-to-1 replacement of the molecules leaving behind a nearly perfect replica of the tree. These petrified trees no longer contain living (or dead) tissue but are essentially tree shaped rocks. For this process to occur though, the trees need to be buried, or at least submerged, in silica rich waters. It is also helpful if there is a lack of oxygen, because without oxygen the trees can't decay. For this to have occurred with all of these trees still standing upright, the entire region would need to have been buried or flooded with anoxic (lack of oxygen) waters or sediment (mud). 

The inspiration for these petrified trees came from a National Park within northeast Arizona, Petrified Forest National Park, where one can actually go see real life petrified trees. The difference here is that although the trees in Petrified Forest are huge, they are nowhere near as big as the ones in Black Spire Outpost, and also most, if not all, of the trees in Petrified Forest are preserved after they had fallen over.

Here are some of the lovely petrified trees from Petrified Forest National Park. I had done a post about the geology of Petrified Forest a little while ago and contains some more pictures and information after the fossilization process.

A close up of an actual petrified log from Petrified Forest National Park.

Back to Black Spire Outpost.

Here is a close up shot of one of the petrified stumps that really looks a lot like a petrified log. The artisans at the park spent a lot of time crafting each spire individually so that they not only looked like trees, but petrified trees, and each unique so they don't look cookie cutter. 

Here are some more spires off in the distance. These petrified tree spires also share a relative in Disney's California Adventure with the petrified Millennium Tree on the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.

You can find all of my Dinos of Disney compiled on my website at

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