Fossils Reveal Prehistoric Trees Tore Themselves Apart To Grow

Xu Honghe, from the Nanjing institute and chief scientist on the project, said each of the xylem strands could expand to add additional annual rings, or divide to produce a new xylem strand system.

The researchers also showed that the development of these strands allowed the tree's overall growth.

According to the research team, scientists have not seen any other tree until now that has ever behaved in such a complicated manner. As the rings grew, the tree got fatter over time.

However, after examining the fossilized trunk, the research team was puzzled to find that the prehistoric tree had a completely hollow middle and that the xylem was confined only to the outer 5 cm of the tree trunk.

Some of the earliest trees on Earth had a much more complicated anatomy than those that live today.

The team, which includes researchers from Cardiff University, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, and State University of NY, also show that the development of these strands allowed the tree's overall growth. Moreover, the tree trunk's diameter had widened as the strands stretched out, and links between them tore apart. In addition, the xylem were connected to one another with a web of supportive strands that each had its own set of growth rings. The new discovery shows conclusively that the connections between each of the strands would split apart in a curiously controlled and self-repairing way to accommodate the growth.

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A freaky mechanism was also at play at the bottom of the tree. This all begs the question, Berry said, of why older trees seem so much more complicated than their modern equivalents.

The Xinicaulis lignescens fossils found in Xinjiang, China, are a segment of a group of species called as Cladoxylopsida, the plants that do not possess descendants but are contemplated as related to the forefathers of today's ferns and horsetails.

Primordial trees that flourished on Earth over 300 million years ago had a far more intricate structure than modern day ones, scientists have found out.

He said: 'Previous examples of these trees have filled with sand when fossilised, offering only tantalising clues about their anatomy.

"The fossilised trunk obtained from Xinjiang was huge and perfectly preserved in glassy silica as a result of volcanic sediments, allowing us to observe every single cell of the plant". It's not yet known how this unusual structure would have affected the amount of carbon these trees were capable of caching from the atmosphere, which was the primary focus of this research.

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