Field of Science

That's pretty creepy - Devonian lycophyte

TPP taught plant diversity/plant morphology for many years and always loved to have the excuse to rummage through the paleobotanical literature.  Back in the Devonian, that little ole era when plants really colonized the land, things were really pretty different.  This reconstruction of a plant called Sengelia, not just of a piece but of a whole plant gives a very different perspective on early land plants.  Some parts of this lycophyte (clubmoss) are quite expected, for example,  the plant is mostly stems and stem-like roots; they branch dichotomously (equal forking at the apex), the stem is covered with enations, little outgrowths, but not leaves.  What us a surprise is that the authors interpret their fossils to growing prostrately, creeping along the land surface.  Not sure how they decided it wasn't a weakish more erect plant that got pushed over by water, flooding that produced the fossils, but Alexandru Tomescu is a careful researcher.  Knocked over plants also tend to have their stem tips turn up a bit at the ends as they try to grow upward again. Without taller plants to compete with, a sprawling, prostrate plant will do fine on often flooded sediments.  Here's the full citation: Matsunaga, K. K. S., & Tomescu, A. M. F. (2017). An organismal concept for Sengelia radicans gen. et sp. nov. – morphology and natural history of an Early Devonian lycophyte. Annals of Botany, 119(7), 1097–1113. 

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