First record of Rellimia Leclercq & Bonamo (Aneurophytales) from Gondwana, with comments on the earliest lignophytes
P. Gerrienne, B. Meyer-Berthaud, H. Lardeux, S. Régnault, 2010. "First record of Rellimia Leclercq & Bonamo (Aneurophytales) from Gondwana, with comments on the earliest lignophytes", The Terrestrialization Process: Modelling Complex Interactions at the Biosphere–Geosphere Interface, M. Vecoli, G. Clément, B. Meyer-Berthaud
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The lignophytes (Embryophytes that possess a bifacial cambium) evolved during the Devonian period and include seed plants. Their advent was a major event in the history of life and had a profound impact on terrestrial environments. Recent reinvestigations of a Devonian locality, Dechra Aït Abdallah in Central Morocco, led to the discovery of a rich assemblage of fossil plants and Tentaculita. This paper focuses on a single specimen of the lignophyte Rellimia Leclercq & Bonamo. Rellimia (Aneurophytales) is a monospecific genus reported from a large number of Middle Devonian localities from western Europe (Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany and Scotland) and America. Its fertile organs are highly distinctive and borne helically on branches. They consist of a basal stalk that dichotomizes once near the base, the resulting branches dividing pinnately and bearing elongated sporangia terminally on ultimate divisions. According to the late Emsian age indicated by our sample of Tentaculita, this Moroccan specimen is to date the earliest representative of both the genus and the lignophytes. If confirmed, this occurrence suggests a possible origin of the Aneurophytalean lignophytes in Gondwana and their rapid and widespread colonization in the Middle Devonian towards Laurussia.
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The Terrestrialization Process: Modelling Complex Interactions at the Biosphere–Geosphere Interface
The invasion of the land by plants (‘terrestrialization’) was one of the most significant evolutionary events in the history of life on Earth, and correlates in time with periods of major palaeoenvironmental perturbations. The development of a vegetation cover on the previously barren land surfaces impacted on the global biogeochemical cycles and the geological processes of erosion and sediment transport. The terrestrialization of plants preceded the rise of major new groups of animals, such as insects and tetrapods, the latter numbering some 24 000 living species, including ourselves. Early land-plant evolution also correlates with the most spectacular decline of atmospheric CO2 concentration of Phanerozoic times and with the onset of a protracted period of glacial conditions on Earth. This book includes a selection of papers covering different aspects of the terrestrialization, from palaeobotany to vertebrate palaeontology and geochemistry, promoting a multidisciplinary approach to the understanding of the co-evolution of life and its environments during Early to Mid-Palaeozoic times.