Miniature mushrooms found in fossils in the northwestern region of Canada may be one billion years old.
According to the Discovery article published in Nature, which also publishes Discovery Report, fossil fossils will be the first of this period to find complex branching structures. This fungus originated around one billion years ago, but it is assumed that this primitive fungus is a unicellular species.
“This changes our vision of the world because these groups still exist today,” said study author Corentin Loron, a doctoral student at the University of Liège, Belgium. This distant past, though very different from today, may be far more modern than we thought.
In addition, the results may indicate that fungi have landed oceans far ahead of plants that appear to have arrived at the coast some 470 million years ago. “Mushrooms might colonize land in front of plants,” Lorraine told The New York Times.
The first sponge?
In shallow water, fossils are found in shale. Researchers have used the dating of uranium-lead from small minerals, called zircons, in shales to determine the age of fossils. Zircon is a hard mineral that can survive many geological changes – the oldest of Jack Hill Australia is 4.4 billion years old. Using a separate dating technique, the researchers also cultured organic matter in slate. Both of these methods regulate the age of fossils between 1 and 900 million years.
The fossils are similar to their bats. Copper fiber ends in a branching structure with spore balls (which serve the same purpose as seeds in plants). The spores are small, only a few hundred nanometers, and the fiber is only a few tens of microns. Researchers call it the species Ourasphaira giraldae.
Most provocatively, the researchers argue that they have found evidence that fossils once contained chitin, a fibrous material that forms the cell walls of fungi. They use infrared light in fossils and analyze the wave patterns of light that reflect back. These patterns match what you see in modern chitin. [Gallery of microscopic worlds: entertaining mushrooms]
Before this discovery, the oldest known fossils date from 450 million years ago, wrote Loron and his colleagues in Nature. This fungus leaves fossil spores on rocks found in Wisconsin. Newfound ancient fungi may be terrestrial species that are washed in the mouth, write researchers, or perhaps sea dwellers.
Researchers will likely want further confirmation of fossil identities. The Carnegie Institute of Geochemistry George Cody told The New York Times that infrared patterns can be made from something other than chitin.