A type of contemporary red algae ( Laurencia sp.). Image credit: Eric Guinther, Wikimedia.org
Researchers from the Swedish Museum of Natural History have pushed back the date of the appearance of plants (well, plant-like algae) to 1.6 billion years ago. Living alongside bacterial mats in shallow pools, fossils of the prehistoric red algae were discovered in India. "Back in the days when they were living and growing this would have been a shallow marine system with plenty of sunlight," said study co-author and geobiologist Therese Sallstedt, referring to India 1.6 billion years ago.
Of the two types, the thread-like algae were microscopic in size, while the tissue-like algae grew to a few millimeters across (making it visible to the human eye, but just barely). And, as said, these are currently the oldest known plant-like fossils, complete with distinct cell structures and tiny organelles.
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