Article: Sporangia containing Scylaspora from the Lower Devonian of the Welsh Borderland
Bulk maceration of Early Devonian (Lochkovian) deposits from the Welsh Borderland has yielded eight specimens of a new type of sporangium characterized by its elongate shape and distinctive spores. The specimens have been examined using scanning electron, transmission electron and light microscopy. The elongate sporangia occur isolated and are fragmented to varying degrees. They contain trilete spores that possess a proximal surface with shallow murornate ornament and a distal surface that is laevigate. The spores belong to the dispersed spore genus Scylaspora, and this is the first report of such spores in situ. Ultrastructural studies demonstrate that the spore walls are bilayered with a lamellate inner layer overlain by an essentially homogeneous outer layer. There is little or no associated extra-exosporal material. To date this is the earliest reported example of lamellate wall ultrastructure in trilete spores. Models of spore wall development are suggested in the light of evidence provided by spore wall ultrastructure. Detailed comparisons of the characters preserved in the fossils (morphological, anatomical and ultrastructural), with those in other fossil and extant plants, currently shed little light on the phylogenetic relationships of these specimens, primarily due to the paucity of comparable data. It is proposed that the plant is probably of vascular status, but in the absence of evidence for vascular tissue, it must be classified as rhyniophytoid.