Fossilised trunks secret to shed even more light on how life evolved on earth (By Denis, 13)

By Denis, 13, Jill Dando News

Scientists could be even nearer to finding out the secret of how life evolved after their latest discovery.

They have recently identified giant fossilized trunks, known as Prototaxites, as mushrooms which could give even more insight into how life evolved.

This new understanding of Prototaxites sheds light on the evolution of life on Earth and contributes to the ongoing scientific fascination with a “fungal forest.”

These trunks, which date back 450 million years to the Ordovician Era, have been found all over the world and can reach a height of 29 feet (8 meters). 

Previous research had classified the Prototaxites as lichens, algae, trees, or mats of liverworts, but scientists were able to distinguish them from other plants based on several unique features, including narrow tube-like structures and a different carbon content. 

The discovery challenges the traditional view that the first towering land organisms were trees rather than mushrooms. 

Further studies have shown that the Prototaxites interacted with their environment, including invading the tissue of nearby vascular plants through their mycelia, and even suffered from parasitism by algae.

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