Primitive land plants from a small Aberdeenshire village are believed to have helped transform Earth from a Mars-like planet into a verdant world of life.
Research has shown that the evolution of plants that spread across the land of the Northeast 407 million years ago played a crucial role in the formation of continents.
According to an international team of scientists, the composition of the rocks that make up Earth’s continents was determined by primitive vegetation that includes mud on land.
And some of the most spectacular and important plants that transformed the planet’s prehistoric landscape come from the village of Rhynie in Aberdeenshire.
The discovery was made by linking fossil records with archives of environmental changes and the Earth’s chemical composition over the past 700 million years.
Alex Brasier of the University of Aberdeen, who is one of the study’s co-authors, said: “These primitive plants spread across the land, transforming a once Mars-like planet of barren rock into a world of life growing in organic form. rich soils.
“Some of the most spectacular and important early land plant fossils on Earth come from the village of Rhynie in Aberdeenshire, where 407 million years ago minerals precipitated from a hot spring and their stems petrified.
“We are now working with colleagues from Queen’s University on the chemistry of the rocks of the Rhynie Hot Springs, where we hope to unveil more about this important fossil sanctuary and look for further clues as to how these early land plants transformed the Earth.” .”
Further study of how plants have changed the planet
The spread of plants completely changed Earth’s biosphere—those parts of the planet’s surface where life thrives—with small plants that later evolved into trees.
This paved the way for the emergence of giant 8 foot centipedes and later the advent of dinosaurs.
The study’s lead author, Christopher Spencer, explained that plants caused fundamental changes in river systems, resulting in more tortuous rivers and muddy flood plains, as well as thicker soils.
The Queen’s University assistant professor said: “This shift was linked to the evolution of plant root systems, which helped produce colossal amounts of mud (by breaking down rocks) and stabilized river channels that trapped that mud for long periods of time.”
The researchers also discovered that vegetation not only changed the Earth’s surface, but also the dynamics of melting in the Earth’s mantle.
Mr Spencer added: “It is amazing to imagine that the greening of the continents could be felt deep within the Earth.
“Hopefully, this previously unrecognized connection between the Earth’s interior and the surface environment will inspire further studies.”
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[Primitive plants from Aberdeenshire village transformed Earth more than 407 million years ago]