Baragwanathia – an early land plant

(barra-gwa-nath-ee-a)

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Fossil of Baragwanathia longifolia.
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria

Rock Tassel-fern, Huperzia squarrosa.
Image: Nicole Alley
Source: Museum Victoria

Silurian

The Victorian fossil plant Baragwanathia marked the first emergence of the club mosses, and was very important in the evolution of land plants. It was one of the first leaf-bearing vascular plants, which means it had strong internal tubes for transporting water, nutrients and gases. It was more advanced than any other land plants, and was a giant of its time – but only the size of a small shrub. From these modest beginnings, the club mosses evolved into tree-sized plants that dominated forests during the Devonian.

Club mosses survive to this day; the Rock Tassel-fern from northern Queensland is similar to Baragwanathia from 415 million years ago. The Rock Tassel-fern is an epiphyte on rocks, particularly near waterfalls, and on tree trunks.

A TRAIL THROUGH TIME

Vascular land plants appeared in the Silurian. See the traces they have left over time.

ThinnfeldiaBlack coalAnglesea floraHaddon nutsBrown coal

WHERE IT WAS FOUND

Baragwanathia map

This fossil of Baragwanathia longifolia was discovered in Victoria.

RELATED OBJECTS

Other objects from the Silurian

NautiloidsEurypteridsPeriechocrinus Kalbarria