Oldest Known Wood

Two newly described fossils suggest that wood is some 10 million years older than previous believed.

By | August 12, 2011

Transverse section of an Early Devonian (407 million years ago) plant with a small amount of woodIMAGE © SCIENCE/AAAS

Woody plants make up some today’s most impressive and diverse flora, but when and how they evolved is largely unknown. Now, two relatively small fossils provide new clues, and suggest that wood evolved at least 10 million years earlier than previously documented, according to a study published today (August 11) in Science. The fossils, a 407-million-year-old specimen from France and a 397-year-old specimen from Canada, have rings of cells that radiate outward—a defining characteristic of wood—and the walls of their cortexes are thick. Taken together with their surprisingly small size—stems measuring only about 12 centimeters in length—the fossils may help settle a debate about why wood evolved in the first place, suggesting that rather than providing mechanical support for plants as they grew larger, the woody structures served as a plumbing system for taking up water. The large size of woody plants may have then evolved secondarily, taking advantage of the newly evolved support system, ScienceNOW reports.

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You

You

Processing...
Processing...

Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo

Comments

Avatar of: Banaro

Anonymous

September 4, 2011

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 4, 2011

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

September 4, 2011

Popular Now

  1. UC Berkeley Receives CRISPR Patent in Europe
    Daily News UC Berkeley Receives CRISPR Patent in Europe

    The European Patent Office will grant patent rights over the use of CRISPR in all cell types to a University of California team, contrasting with a recent decision in the U.S.

  2. DNA Replication Errors Contribute to Cancer Risk
  3. Should Healthy People Have Their Exomes Sequenced?
    Daily News Should Healthy People Have Their Exomes Sequenced?

    With its announced launch of a whole-exome sequencing service for apparently healthy individuals, Ambry Genetics is the latest company to enter this growing market. But whether these services are useful for most people remains up for debate.  

  4. Rethinking a Cancer Drug Target
    Daily News Rethinking a Cancer Drug Target

    The results of a CRISPR-Cas9 study suggest that MELK—a protein thought to play a critical role in cancer—is not necessary for cancer cell survival.

Business Birmingham