The most ancient terrestrial lichen Winfrenatia reticulata: A new find and new interpretation
Silicified fossils from Rhynie cherts in Scotland are studied. A lichen belonging to the genus Winfrenatia is detected and studied. This oldest terrestrial lichen is dated to the Pragian (=Siegenian) of the Early Devonian. New characters of the lichen are described, and their new interpretation is given. The main component of the lichen thallus is a filamentous cyanobacterium (Nostocales). Structures which were interpreted as fungal hyphae are probably hollow sheaths of this cyanobacterium. Mycobiont hyphae develop at the base of the thallus and symbiose with a coccoid cyanobacterium. Thus, Winfrenatia reticulata is a three-parted organism, constituted of a mycobiont and filamentous and coccoid cyanobacteria.