General, Research, Technology

Fossils of one of the most ancient algae, over one billion years old, have been found.

Times when scientists used weakBy today's standards, computers the size of a huge cabinet have long passed. Today, researchers have at their disposal powerful computers, microscopes, and other modern equipment, so there is nothing surprising in the fact that scientific discoveries are becoming more and more amazing. Several years ago, scientists involved in the study of fossils of ancient animals and plants managed to unearth the fossilized remains of algae, whose age was estimated at 800 million years. But now, thanks to new technologies, they managed to find tiny samples of green algae called Proterocladus antiquus over one billion years old. But why is this discovery considered to be very important and what new things have scientists learned about the ancient world by studying fossils?

The green algae of Proterocladus antiquus looked something like this

According to the scientific publication Nature Ecology &Evolution, several millimeter-long fossils of algae have been found in Liaoning Province, in northern China. Although the age of aquatic plants is estimated at one billion years, they are not the oldest in history. And the thing is that earlier scientists managed to find algae of the species Bangiomorpha pubescens, whose age was estimated at 1.047 billion years. Only now a new find interests scientists more, because they found not red algae, but green ones. They had the opportunity to once again prove that the plants originally appeared in the water and only then went on land.

How did plants appear?

It is believed that green plants appeared onour planet between 2.5 billion and 635 million years ago. Until now, it has been quite difficult for scientists to name more accurate dates for the appearance of green plants on Earth, but thanks to the discovery of more fossilized algae, this is becoming easier. For example, now we know for sure that a billion years ago, green algae Proterocladus antiquus precisely grew in the waters of our planet. Most likely, over time, they evolved and, like animals, emerged from the water to land. According to paleontologist Shuhai Xiao, the development of land plants began about 450 million years ago.

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There is a small fraction of the probability that the studiedunder a microscope, algae are the progenitors of all plants that exist today, from huge trees to moss growing on them. Most likely, the found algae grew in the oceans, because they are similar in shape and size to the plants that grow in the oceans today.

Petrified remains of Proterocladus antiquus

It is worth noting that the assumption thatgreen plants originally appeared in the ocean and gradually switched to land, some scientists may not like it. The fact is that some of them are sure that initially the plants appeared in fresh water, and only then arose in the ocean and on land. They would be happy to prove their theory, but at the moment, scientists have not found so ancient algae that grew in fresh waters.

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In general, like everything existing in this world,algae are very interested in scientists. Over billions of years, these plants have developed to such an extent that today they can be dangerous to humans and animals. Only last year we told you about how the so-called blue-green algae can cause poisoning and cause death. More information about these plants and their victims can be found in our special material.