Oldest plant fossil – Fossil friday

Oldest plant fossils - Liverwort cryptospores

You are looking at the oldest plant remains scientists have ever found. These are spores (cryptospores to be precise) which are no bigger than 40 ยตm (micrometers) from at least five different species including an unknown one (h). They dated the rocks containing them and found their age to be 471 to 473 millions of years old! Although none of the species that produced these spores are alive today, their descendants still are however. They form a clade of primitive plants, the Liverworts, of which you can see an example below. These are somewhat representative of the earliest land plants, as they do not have true roots systems for example.
An extant liverwort
The scientists that made the discovery argued that the fact that they found diversity among the first land plants at such an early date might point to the fact that they had colonised land even earlier. The current location of these finding also gives a clue as to where this colonisation has occured. The authors have estimated that the colonisation must have taken somewhere on the east coast of the super-continent Gondwana, as you can see on the map below.

Gondwana with position of findings and area of colonisation by land plants

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The snake sanctuary

This time, we come back down to Earth and look into a deadly Snake Sanctuary. Its name means land-clearing fire, it is located kilometers away from the Brazilian coast, its lush rainforest harbours some of the deadliest snakes on Earth, let’s enter the Ilha Queimada Grande…

Infographic on the golden lancehead snake on ilha queimada grande, brazil

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The desert locust, millenary plague

It is one of the ten Biblical plagues but a source of food; harmless when alone, a curse when grouped in swarms of millions of individuals… the desert locust.

It’s biology is complex and changing, it can turn into a monster devouring everything on its path in a matter of days if the conditions force it too. As it was a fascinating subject, we decided to do something bigger than our usual infographic, we made a a poster out of it.

Poster on the desert locust - biology, life cycle and damages

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Europe’s only wild monkeys

Picture of a Barbary macaqueMan is not the only primate present in Europe. But would you know where to find the other one?
If you have ever been to the Rock of Gibraltar, in the South of Spain, you surely haven’t missed its main attraction, the macaques. If you have never been then know that these are the only wild monkeys present in Europe! Let’s explore in more details who they are…

Infographic on the Barbary macaque from Gibraltar
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