Earliest known plant fossils unearthed in India

In the most recent development in the paleontological and natural history of the earth, a team of researchers have excavated fossils in India that go back to almost 1.6 billion years.

This path-breaking discovery is bound to make the modern day palaeontologists, biologists and the rest of the scientific community to re-analyze and reexamine the evolutionary scene of the multicellular plant life that unfolded billions of years ago. The discovery was made in the sedimentary rocks of Chitrakoot, a fossil-rich region in central India. Until now, the oldest known multicellular plant fossils were discovered in the Canadian Arctic and consisted of red algae.

The ancient plants or more specifically algal fossils that have been unearthed in Chitrakoot resemble and are believed to be the ones who carried forward the present day red algae. Red algae today thrive in freshwater habitats as well in marine habitats such as barrier reefs etc. which are known for their unique biodiversity. The fossils have shown a remarkable similarity to the present day algal members of earth, like the presence of cell wall, etc. and were also responsible for undertaking chemical photosynthesis that increased and enhanced the level of molecular oxygen in the atmosphere so that the more advanced plant and animal life forms were made possible later.

As per the present knowledge in the natural history of the earth and how the different animal and plant species came into existence, it is widely believed to have started with the appearance of bacteria in the marine ecosystem about 3.7 to 4.2 billion years ago. The bacterial and other primitive life forms that appeared back then are believed to have survived in environments fairly different from what it is today and they probably fed on iron and other elements that were found in the marine habitat.