Remains of the oldest known land plants have been found in the Świętokrzyskie Mountains

In the southern part of the Swietokrzyskie Mountains, scientists have come across the remains of the oldest known land plants. The remains are about 440-450 million years old and, scientists say, provide evidence that land plants evolved from bryophyte-like forms.

The find was encountered by chance. During excavation for the foundation of a house in the village of Zbrza in Kielce County, collected probki rocks and transported them to the lab. The research was conducted by Dr. hab. Mariusz Salamon of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Silesia, whichory searched for lilovcow. Instead of invertebrate animals, he found the remains of primitive plants.

– After washing and drying prob rocks there we found organisms of interest to me. However, we noticed roalso strange charred remains, whichoThe group of specialists was interested inow – says Prof. Salamon.

In prob the rocks found fragments of very old, primitive tissueless plants, i.e. such, in whichor which specialized tissues did not appear, e.g. conductive (wspo(bryophytes belong to this group). Subsequent visual inspection and verification of the resultow by a group of outstanding paleobotanistsoin France and Belgium allowed to confirm that proThe bka has approx. 445 million years old and contains remains that probably belong to higher plants.

– Spores (spores) have also been found in it, whichore certainly were produced by terrestrial plants. In the meantime, more rock fragments, more than a few hundred kilograms, were being brought down all the time and looked at on an ongoing basisow. The whole procedure took well over a year, in the search for the elementoThe entire group of osob – mowi scientist.

Ancient plants measured a few millimeters eachow and may have resembled a split twig. – This dichotomous division is very important – it shows that at this stage of evolution the plant was no longer sufficient to have a single branch ending in an embryo, ktora ended the growth of the shoot. For greater efficiency, the branch was divided into two. In this wayotwo sporangia were formed on one shoot,” says one of the discoverersoin plants.

The researchers also came across a trace of a structure, whichoThey interpret it as a stomatal apparatus. Its presence indicates that the plant must have functioned in a terrestrial environment.

The age of the finds from Gor of the Świętokrzyskie Mountains is estimated to be about 445 million years old. It is ok. 15 million years older than the oldest land plant fossils known to date.

Scientists recall that life is believed to have originated in the seas and oceans, and the first primitive plants on land probably appeared about 480-460 million years ago, in the early or middle Ordovician. The new find represents an extremely old type of organism.

More complicated were poThe more recent tissue plants – the oldest we know of is Cooksonia, which isora measured approx. 5-6 cm. Its oldest remains date back to ca. 430 million years. In even younger sediments (from the end of the Silurian), this plant is quite common on various oearly continents. This means that they were already widespread in the world.

Finding probable remainsoIn primitive plants in GoThe Swietokrzyskie rach allows to fill the gap in fossil collections, whichore illustrate the theory of evolution. – Since we have a 5-cm Cooksonia in the sylvium – it can be expected that it did not come from nowhere, and some earlier evolutionary processes led to its formation. There is a concept according to whichohe bryophyte stage in the evolution of plants on Earth occurred before tissue plantsow: that is, they first appeared roThe mosses – tissueless plants that are counterparts of wspoThe group of specialists was interested in the modern guillemotsoin whether the liverwortsow – says the scientist.

It is this group that is represented by the remains from Gor Swietokrzyskie.

Finding them required skill and a bit of luck, since plants without hard and rigid structures (wood or phloem), even if they undergo fossilization, become brittle and easily disintegrate after millions of years. – The spores are much better behaved – spore capsules, thanks to which theorym comorka is surrounded by substances that are very resistant to chemical processes, says Dr. hab. Pawel Filipiak of the UŚ.

The task was not made easier by the fact that this is a small plant – the largest remnant is only a few millimeters longow. – When we look at a rock fragment, we simply see a black spot – motie scientists.

Prof. Salamon adds that these sediments have been studied for many years, but only now has it been possible to find such old plant remains. A similar finding in layers of Ordovician rocks was reported by roAlso in the 1990s. on the territory of Kazakhstan.

At times, with ktor which the remains came from, today’s Gory Swietokrzyskie constituted the bottom of a shallow sea. Not far from the site on whichorym where the fragments were found, was probably located in the coastal zone. A storm or ordinary wind must have carried the plant fragments to the sea and pushed them deep into theod – just like on the beach in Ustka, when waves during a storm break into the dunes and take plant remains with them. These poThen they drift, rot and sink to the bottom of the. – 445 million years ago, the situation may have looked very similar – mowi one of the authorsow.

The find was described in the "New Phytologist". The authors of the publication are an international teamol scientistow: Marius A. Salamon, Pawel Filipiak, Tomasz Brachaniec, Magdalena Misz-Kennan from the University of Silesia, Robert Niedźwiedzki from the University of Wroclaw, Wieslaw Trela from the National Geological Institute-State Research Institute, Przemyslaw Gorzelak from the Institute of Paleobiology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, as well as scientists from leading centers in the study of the oldest plants, centersoin research from Belgium or France: Philippe Gerrienne and Philippe Steemans of the University of Liège, Alain Le Hérissé From CNRS, Géosciences Océan, Institut Universitaire d`études Marines, Florentin Paris of the CNRS, Université de Rennes 1 and Borja Cascales-Miñana from the CNRS, University of Lille.

Sourceosource: PAP – Science in Poland, Anna Slzak, photo. CC BY 2.0/ Sabrina Setaro/ Flickr. Pictured is Cooksonia, a specimen from the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Canada