New research shows that the leaves of Permian plants curl as they go dormant.
Plants such as legumes and daisies wrap their leaves and petals as if they were asleep each night as the sun sets, and they open at sunrise. A new study shows that this happened a quarter of a billion years ago, according to Live Science.
New research from the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm shows that more than 250 million years ago, plants were able to fold their leaves at night. Stephen McLaughlin, author of the study and curator of the Paleozoic and Mesozoic collection of fossil plants, and his team tracked down the unique traces that insects leave only on folded leaves. They found that a group of long-extinct plants was likely nyctynastic, meaning plants that curl in response to darkness.
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The study’s author states that the difficulty stems from the fact that it is impossible to tell whether a fossilized plant is curled up in darkness or wilting. That’s why the researchers focused on looking for patterns of insect damage specific to plants that have a similar response to darkness. As a result, the researchers were able to find a group of plants that point to an extremely ancient occurrence of this plant behavior.
Note that this behavior of plants was first described in 324 BC by Androsten of Thassos. Later, in 1880, “the sleepy movements of plants” were also described by Charles Darwin. But scientists are still not entirely sure what causes this behavior of plants.
Some research suggests it may play a role in temperature regulation or in removing excess water from the leaf surface. Others suggest that nyctinasty is a way to fight insects. But if we assume that the “sleeping behavior” of plants is a defense mechanism, then it clearly doesn’t work every time. In fact, scientists have found that plants with this behavior, by contrast, are filled with perfectly symmetrical holes left by insects.
It was this feature that McLaughlin and colleagues used in their study. During the study, they discovered a group of Permian plants (giganopterids) that went extinct 250 million years ago. Scientists suggest, based on the data obtained, that these plants have fern-like leaves and woody stems, growing up to 25 centimeters in height. What’s more, they could “crawl” through trees like vines and twist their leaves at nightfall.
Previously Focus He wrote that scientists believe plants can think and make decisions.
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