A Plant That Was Around With The Dinosaurs Has Been Found Alive


The dinosaurs that roamed Earth 66 million years ago might be gone forever, but the plants they trampled through are still with us, as a new discovery in the US shows.

Scientists have come across a prehistoric plant called Lychnothamnus barbatus in North America for the first time, although it has previously been spotted in isolated clumps in Europe and Australasia.


The large, green, stonewort-style alga provides food and habitats for fish and other aquatic organisms, and has been thriving on the planet for tens of millions of years. It means other such discoveries of plants long thought extinct could be possible.

"[Its] survival isn't, per se, ecologically Earth-shaking, but it changes our view of what the algal flora of North America is composed of and inspires us to keep hunting for more new finds," says botanist Richard McCourt from Drexel University in Pennsylvania.

"This means mainly that we don't know as much about what's out there as we could."


The alga was found in 16 lakes across Wisconsin and Minnesota between 2012 and 2016, and while scientists immediately recognised they were looking at something unusual, they had to extract its DNA to confirm it was Lychnothamnus barbatus.


Photo id: 75466 - Lychnothamnus barbatus

Picture modified from Walter Emil Friedrich August Migula - Algen. 2. Teil. Rhodophyceae, Phaeophyceae, Characeae. Kryptogamen-Flora von Deutschland, Deutsch-Österreich und der Schweiz im Anschluss an Thoma's Flora von Deutschland. Band II. (1909)