Building a Better Tree

About 358 million years ago, trees grew to 8 to maybe 15 meters tall, as researches have finally put the tree top on its trunk.

Recent fossils in upstate New York have finally allowed the branches to be place atop their trunks. Since the 1870s paleontologists discovered the remains of our oldest forests stumps composed of Eospermatopteriseriana. Then in 2005, they discovered some tree tops that belong to Wattieza alongside trunks of E.eriana.

Placing the Wattieza tops on Eospermatopteris trunks, we get the tallest trees of the time. They did not have leaves but chlorophyll containing branches that branched many times to produce an open broom perched atop an ever rising trunk. Side branches died as more were produced in the center, giving a taller more palm tree-like appearance.

This gave Eospermatopteris an edge in getting its spores more exposed to and carried widely by the winds.

About the same time as Eospermatopteris was tossing is spores to the wind, Prototaxites, an ancient fungi was giving a new name to ‘Now that is a big fungi’. Growing to heights of 8 meters and more, these simple totem pole-like fungi along with other primitive plants dominated the landscape as vertebrates had yet to discover the non-aquatic landscape.

Science News Week of April 21, 2007; Vol. 171, No. 16 , p. 243
Newsletter Volume 21 - Autumn 2007

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