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520-million Year Lichen-like Plants Discovered



Prof. YANG Ruidong at the Guizhou University announced recently that he and his team have found a lichen like plant dated back to 520 million years ago. Named as Parafunaria sinensis Yang, the plant is the earliest lichen like plants discovered so far in the world. The finding advances the fossilized record of lichen plants by 70 million years. The specimen collected show leave-shape ring growing process, capsule and sophisticated roots that are uniquely possessed by lichen plants. These plants are believed heading for a transition to the lichen plants.

Discovered among massive fossilized algae unearthed from the early and mid Cambrian shales in Taijiang, Guizhou Province, Parafunaria sinensis Yang have the blades grown in cluster on in ring form, with each ring leave made up of 4 blades, supported by ribs and whisker like rhizoid, an apparent association with the algae family. Scientists say that alga is the most ancient ancestor of plants, while lichen makes a most ancient higher plant. In this context, researchers believe Parafunaria sinensis Yang is possibly an ancestor of lichen plants.
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