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Ourasphaira Giraldae: Oldest-known Fossils of fungus

Date: 24 May 2019 Tags: Biodiversity

Scientists have discovered oldest-known Fossils of fungus named Ourasphaira giraldae. Its microfossils were recently excavated in an Arctic region of north-western Canada.  The discovery sheds light on the origins of an important branch in earth’s tree of life.

Ourasphaira giraldae

It was a multicellular fungus. It lived in an estuary environment about 900 million to 1 billion years ago. It is forerunner to immensely diverse group that today includes likes of mushrooms, yeasts and molds.

The microscopic fossils of Ourasphaira giraldae contained in shale rock dates back to Proterozoic era, before the advent of complex life forms and thus making it oldest-known fungus species. Until now, oldest-known fungus fossil was one about 410 million years old from Scotland.

Fungi

It belongs to broad group of organisms, called eukaryotes, that possesses clearly defined nucleus and also includes animals and plants. The fundamental difference between fungi and plants is that fungi are incapable of photosynthesis i.e. can’t harness sunlight to synthesize nutrients. It plays important role in ecosystems such as in organic decomposition process.