Oldest horsetails found, according to an article in ScienceDaily 4 May 2011. Alan Channing, of Cardiff University, Wales, and colleagues from Wales and Argentina, have found fossilised horsetail plants in blocks of chert in southern Patagonia. The fossils have been exquisitely preserved by the process of permineralisation, where water containing dissolved silica has percolated through the plants and the silica has precipitated out within the plant, creating a perfect three dimensional replica of the plant structure. The preservation is so detailed the researchers were able to see the microscopic structure of the plant tissues and compare them with living horsetails. Horsetails have the scientific name Equisetum and the researchers describe the new fossils as having “all the morphological and anatomical characteristics of the extant (living) crown group Equisetum”.
The new fossils have been given the scientific name Equisetum thermal because the researchers claim it grew near a hot spring, like many horsetails do today. The fossils are dated as 150 million years, so according to Channing, “Equisetum thermale appears to be the oldest record of the genus Equisetum and at the very least records that anatomically, essentially modern Equisetum-like horsetails have a history extending back to the Late Jurassic”. According to ScienceDaily “these findings support the idea that Equisetum is an extremely ancient genus that has undergone little evolutionary innovation over the last 150 million years”.
Editorial Comment: To say that horsetails have “undergone little evolutionary innovation” is another way of saying horsetails haven’t changed, irrespective of how long you believe they have been on the earth. We know from other fossil horsetails that they were once much larger than they are today, but their internal structure has not changed, so horsetails are considered a classic living fossil – a living organism that is the same as its fossils. Like all living fossils, horsetails are good evidence for the Biblical history of the world. Horsetails were created as fully formed plants, according to their kind. Because the original earth was “very good” and was watered by a rising mist each day horsetails were able to grow to great heights. Following Noah’s flood the environment degenerated and horsetails were not able to grow as large, but they have reproduced after their kind, and have never shown any evidence of evolving from or to another kind of plant. (Ref. botany, palaeobotany, vascular plants)
Evidence News 11 May 2011