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  Rhynie
  Great Britain

Added:
september 2006
Last Modified:
september 2006

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Location description

Fossils from the villge of Rhynie are world famous because of the well preserved plantfossils from the Pragian, lower Devonian period. These are from one of the oldest known land deposits, and contain fossils from the first phase of landcolonisation by plants. Th plants are exceptionally well preserved. Even the individual plant cells can be seen! The fossils can be best studied in thin slices.

The so called Rhynie Chert was discovered by W. Mackie in 1912. Later the paleobotanists R. Kidston and H. Lang publicised about these fossils. The finds learned us a lot about the evolution in the lower Devonian period.

The fossils have been found in the past in very small exposures, an in loose rocks. Now, only a field can be seen and it is not possible to collect at this site. The fossil layer is covered by over one metre of dirt. The site is now protected: Site of Special Scientific Interest, SSSI.

The plants lived in a marshy environment with hot springs and in a subtropical to tropical climate. The silicium rich water from the springs resulted in a very fast fossilisation. The silica minerals took the place of the organic matter. Recent radiometric dating resulted in an age of 396 milion years (+/- 12).


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Directions

Rhynie is located in the county of Aberdeenshire in the east of Scotland, UK. The village is located 40 kilometres northwest of Aberdeen.

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Finds

Many species of primitive plants (like Aglaophyton, Rhynia, Horneophyton and Asteroxylon) and the first vascular plants. The plants had no leaves. Also various arthropods were found, a scorpion like animal, spider likes, and millepedes. Even lichens, fungi and algae were found. Several cases of parasitism were studied.

Literature recommended by members

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