From Redwood, California, the tallest living plant on earth, to the largest rainforest on earth, AmazonThe stately forest may seem timeless. But like all species and ecosystems, they have a date of birth. In fact, plants first arrived on land about 470 million years ago, but trees and forests did not appear until nearly 390 million years ago.
Meanwhile, plant life slowly evolved the genetic precursors needed to make trees, which defeated other plants, Chris Berry, a paleontologist at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, told live science. Told.
In 2019, Berry and colleagues reported in a journal about the oldest forest on record. Current biology (Opens in a new tab).. Discovered in Cairo, New York, the forest reveals the characteristics of trees and forests: trees, roots, and leaves that are home to dozens of plants “much earlier than previously suspected.” did. A few years ago, in the early Devonian, researchers said in a study.
Cairo remains preserve the fossilized root system of ancient trees, showing exactly where they appeared in life, Berry said. “I can’t see the fossils of the trees, but I can see an accurate map of where they stood,” he said. “So what we learn is forest ecology.”
Its fossilized “map” function ArchaeopterisAn ancient plant boasting “big woody roots and leafy woody branches,” like modern trees. report (Opens in a new tab) From Binghamton University in New York.Previously, the earliest known Archaeopteris find placed the arrival of plants 20 million years later, Science reported (Opens in a new tab)..
The development of these early forests evolution According to Berry, the precursors to defining the properties of trees “I think the impetus is evolution, the development of anatomy that allows for more complex branches,” he said. Such an anatomy arrived when plants evolved a tree-like structure of “a genetic toolkit that could be constructed,” Berry said. For example, the early divergence system was developed shortly before the Silurian (443.8-419.2 million years ago) Devonian, but its first roots arrived in the early Devonian. .. 2 (Opens in a new tab) Report (Opens in a new tab) From the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. After that, the characteristics of the tree brought great advantages. In particular, it outperforms the competition to absorb sunlight.
However, changes in the environment may have enabled at least one important tree function. Megafil, a leaf that is common today and features branched veins, absorbs more sunlight because it can grow much larger than its predecessor. According to a 2001 study in the journal, they first appeared about 390 million years ago, but were initially small and spread only 30 million years later, at the end of the Devonian. Nature (Opens in a new tab) And 2021 PBS “Eons” episode (Opens in a new tab) Special feature on research.
That delay was caused by the high carbon Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels produced Earth Studies have found that it is too hot for large giant leaves. They will simply absorb too much sunlight and overheating. However, the plunge in Devonian CO2 levels has brought double benefits to Megafil. Greenhouse gas Larger megafills fit into more pores, called stomata, and can take in higher levels of reduced CO2 while cooling the planet. Such leaves can help drive the forest revolution.
Originally published on Live Science.
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