, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 113-137

Chemical examinations of some non-vascular Paleozoic plants

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Abstract

The organic chemical constituents of compression fossils ofNematothallus,Spongiophyton, Orestovia andEohostimella are identified and compared with those isolated from living and fossil forms ofBotryococcus (a green alga) andTaeniocrada (a vascular plant fossil). The range and maxima in the carbon numbers observed in the normal, saturated acids isolated fromNematothallus, Orestovia, andSpongiophyton are similar to those of fossilBotryococcus, while those acids contained within compression fossils ofEohostimella are similar to the hydrocarbon composition ofTaeniocrada. Isoprenoid, branched hydrocarbons and steroids identified fromNematothallus, Orestovia, andSpongiophyton suggest these genera have algal affinities, while the presence of thick cuticles and in some cases cutin-like compounds appear to show adaptation to a terrestrial environment. Phenolic compounds retained within rock matrices associated withEohostimella are similar to those isolated fromTaeniocrada suggesting chemical, as well as morphological parallels with the land plant habit. These data are interpreted as indicating an early polyphyletic exploitation of the terrestrial habitat during the Paleozoic.