Descobertas florestas fossilizadas na região ártica da Noruega. Pode isso, Arnaldo?

sexta-feira, novembro 20, 2015

Lycopsid forests in the early Late Devonian paleoequatorial zone of Svalbard

Christopher M. Berry1 and John E.A. Marshall2

1School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University, Main Building, Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3AT, Wales, UK

2Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton, European Way, Southampton SO14 3ZH, UK

The Middle to early Late Devonian transition from diminutive plants to the first forests is a key episode in terrestrialization. The two major plant groups currently recognized in such “transitional forests” are pseudosporochnaleans (small to medium trees showing some morphological similarity to living tree ferns and palms) and archaeopteridaleans (trees with woody trunks and leafy branches probably related to living conifers). Here we report a new type of “transitional” in-situ Devonian forest based on lycopsid fossils from the Plantekløfta Formation, Munindalen, Svalbard. Previously regarded as very latest Devonian (latest Famennian, 360 Ma), their age, based on palynology, is early Frasnian (ca. 380 Ma). In-situ trees are represented by internal casts of arborescent lycopsids with cormose bases and small ribbon-like roots occurring in dense stands spaced ∼15–20 cm apart, here identified as Protolepidodendropsis pulchra Høeg. This plant also occurs as compression fossils throughout most of the late Givetian–early Frasnian Mimerdalen Subgroup. The lycopsids grew in wet soils in a localized, rapidly subsiding, short-lived basin. Importantly, this new type of Middle to early Late Devonian forest is paleoequatorial and hence tropical. This high-tree-density tropical vegetation may have promoted rapid weathering of soils, and hence enhanced carbon dioxide drawdown, when compared with other contemporary and more high-latitude forests.

Received 22 May 2015.

Revision received 9 September 2015.

Accepted 14 September 2015.

© 2015 Geological Society of America