The reconstruction of the plant, dating from between 125 and 120 million years ago, has been conducted using the plant organs found separately
Palaeonitella trifurcate is the name of a new fossil species of a freshwater plant from the Lower Cretaceous found and reconstructed by a team of geologists of the University of Barcelona. The reconstruction of the plant, dating from between 125 and 120 million years ago, has been conducted using the plant organs found separately in a stratum of limestone from the Natural Park of Garraf, in Olivella (Barcelona).
This is one of the few fossil charophytes, pluricellular algae that are considered to be the ancestors of vascular plants, which have been fully reconstructed. This has been made possible putting together the different organs —the main stem, branches and the fructifications— as puzzle pieces. Related article was published in the journal Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, is led by Carles Martín-Closas, tenured university lecturer at the Faculty of Earth Sciences and the Biodiversity Research Institute (IRBio) of the UB. Experts from the Geomodels Research Institute of the UB and the Tubkal Ingeniería company have also participated in the study.
The plant has been attributed to the new species Palaeonitella trifurcate and it belongs to a group of charophytes that has been rarely kept in a fossil state.
The study of the sedimentology and the microfossils associated with Palaeonitella trifurcate has enabled researchers to reconstruct a paleoenvironment with littoral freshwater lakes, connected with basins protected from marine salinity, similar to coastal lagoons. In this habitat of the Lower Cretaceous, there were organisms typical of shallow waters, such as benthic foraminifera and chlorophytes from the group of dasicladals, an order of the chlorophyll algae.