360-Million-Year-Old Irish Fossil Provides Oldest Evidence of Plant Self-Defense in Wood
Published:08 May2023    Source:Trinity College Dublin
The research team discovered tyloses in the fossilised wood of an extinct group of plants known as the Archaeopteridalean progymnosperms. These plants are particularly important as they were the first trees to resemble those we see today, with a large woody trunk, branches, and complex root systems. The team has now discovered that these primitive trees were also able to form tyloses to protect their wood. What is particularly exciting is that Ireland is one of the few places in the world where such details can be observed in plants from this remote time period. This means that the fossils from Co. Wexford give unique insights into this important period in plant evolution.

One researcher of the team said: Fossil wood is an example of an anatomically preserved fossil: plant remains that have been infiltrated by a water rich in minerals, preserving their tissues in three dimensions. These fossils allow us to study very fine details of extinct plant anatomy, down to the cellular level. This type of preservation, in general, is rare but occurs in certain fossil deposits in Ireland. Continuing fieldwork in Irish Devonian localities will yield new fossils that will increase our understanding of the diversity and biology of extinct plants. Overall, Ireland's rich plant fossil history -- an untapped resource -- plays a key role in answering exciting research questions and raises many more.