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Discovery of a “strange” primitive tree in Canada – Liberation

Discovery of a “strange” primitive tree in Canada – Liberation

A team of scientists has discovered a tree unlike any known today, providing insight into early plants review Current biology Friday, February 2. “We all have a mental idea of ​​what a tree looks like, depending on where we live on the planet, and we have a vision of what is familiar to us», explains Robert Gastaldo, a paleontologist at Colby College in the United States and one of the authors of this study. gold, “The fossil we are talking about is unique and represents a strange growth form in the history of life.”identifies the researcher whose comments are reported in Science and the future.

This strange plant has a name Sanfordiacolis densifoliaIt was found along with several other fossils of the same type at the Sanford Quarry in eastern Canada. All of these trees were likely buried during an earthquake, when they formed a forest on the edge of a lake just over 350 million years ago.

The way this tree produced leaves so long around its long trunk, and so numerous along a short length of the trunk, is astonishing.“, notes Robert Gasaldo. Indeed, the general appearance of Sanfordiacolis densifolia It reminds us of a fern perched on a trunk or a palm tree, a tree that did not appear until 300 million years later.

Usually, fern or palm tree leaves are clustered together at the top and are relatively few in number. Here, according to the researchers' models, the tree could have up to 250 leaves, which formed a vast canopy more than 5 meters wide. Everything was carried by a box with a diameter of only 16 cm.

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In search of light

The first fossilized remains of this forest were discovered in 2017, but they were very partial. An international team of paleontologists set out to excavate the site and eventually discovered four more trees, including the specimen that served as the basis for this study. It is a stem 2.25 meters long, without roots or apex (which was found in another specimen) and has numerous leaves attached directly to the stem. The longest reaches 1.75 meters in length.

According to the authors, Sanfordiacolis It developed its dense foliage because it was not as tall as the other trees in the forest and needed to increase the amount of light it received. The exceptional preservation of these fossils provides biologists with an opportunity to study the evolution of early plants and trees.