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Lab 8 - Protists and Plants

Lab 8 - Protists and Plants - LAB 8 FOSSIL PROTISTS AND...

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LAB # 8 - FOSSIL PROTISTS AND PLANTS The study of fossil protists and plants is conducted by micropaleontologists and paleobotanists. The field of paleobotany, involving the study of fossil plants, may be divided into a number of subdisciplines. This study involves four of the five kingdoms of organisms and encompasses both the study of large organisms and micropaleontology as well. Most of these organisms produce their energy by means of photosynthesis. Kingdom Monera The Kingdom Monera includes bacteria (constituting several divisions including the fermenting bacteria and sulfate-reducing bacteria and anaerobic photosynthetic bacteria) and blue-green algae (Division Cyanobacteria). Possible fossils of blue-green algae have been found in Western Australia which date to approximately 3.4 to 3.5 billion years before the present. Both fossil bacteria and blue-green algae have been recovered from the Fig Tree Formation of South Africa, which are approximately 3.4 billion years old. Stromatolites are structures produced by blue-green algae which represent some of the oldest fossils known. Near Bulawayo in Southern Zimbabwe stromatolites have been found in limestones dating at 2.8 billion years before the present. The Warawoona Group of Western Australia has yielded even older stromatolite-like fossils, dating from 3.4 to 3.5 billion years before the present. The study of Carbon 12/ Carbon 13 ratios in Archean-age rocks suggests the biological fixation of carbon dioxide by these organisms through photosynthesis and represents the earliest records of oxygen-producing organisms on the planet. Stromatolites are produced by "mucoid algae" which manufacture an organic glue. Fine-grained carbonate mud is glued to the organism to give the plant support and protection. Stromatolites are most often found on muddy substrates in shallow marine waters (usually at or slightly above the intertidal zone) and salt lakes. However, some stromatolites occur in deep marine environments and numerous freshwater forms have also been described. Kingdom Fungi The Fungi consist of one division, the Eumycota. These organisms are often found as minute filament- or club-like fossils within the fossil remains of decayed plants. Many fungi feed on decaying organic matter ( saprophytes or scavangers ) and others are parasites . Although some organic structures from the late Precambrian have been referred to the Fungi, the earliest nondisputed Eumycota have been found in decayed tissues of vascular plants from the Devonian. Kingdom Protoctista (Protista) Several photosynthetic divisions of Protoctista are studied by botanists, and a number of these have a substantial fossil record. These include the divisions Paeophyta (brown algae), Rhodophyta (red algae), Bacillariophyta (diatoms), Haptophyta (calcareous nannoplankton or coccoliths), Dinoflagellata (dinoflagellates) and Chlorophyta (grass-green algae). The Foraminiferida (foraminiferans) and Actinopoda (radiolarians) are often termed "protozoans"
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(see discussion below).
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