The first land plants evolved from freshwater algae

The first land plants evolved from freshwater algae
The first land plants evolved from freshwater algae

Scientists from Australia and the United States studied the spores of ancient plants and concluded that terrestrial forms evolved from freshwater green algae.

The work was published in the journal Science. Scientists from Boston Weston College (USA) and Australian National University have taken a fresh look at the spore-like microfossils (microbial remains) collected in Australia over 60 years ago. They date back to the Lower Ordovician period, about 480 million years ago, and serve as evidence of the early evolution of terrestrial plants.

So far, the first fossil evidence of terrestrial plants dates back to the Devonian era - about 420 million years ago. But molecular phylogenetic data suggest that terrestrial plants appeared earlier. Meanwhile, there were no direct paleobotanical finds. To fill this gap, Australian and American scientists have turned to the description of plant spores.

The authors of the work found that they have an intermediate morphology between the found spores of terrestrial plants and earlier forms, the species of which has not been established. Experts believe that he belonged to freshwater green, or harophyte algae.

This approach helps to bring the history of fossil spores into line with the data of molecular clocks in plants. In this way, scientists were able to bridge the gap between molecular dating and fossils and obtain a clearer picture of the origin of terrestrial plants.

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