Skip to content Skip to navigation

Article: The overlooked aquatic green algal component of early terrestrial environments: Triskelia scotlandica gen. et sp. nov. from the Rhynie cherts

Papers in Palaeontology - Volume 7 Issue 1 - Cover
Publication: Papers in Palaeontology
Volume: 7
Part: 2
Publication Date: May 2021
Page(s): 709 719
Author(s): Christine Strullu-Derrien, Alain Le Hérissé, Tomasz Goral, Alan R.T. Spencer, and Paul Kenrick
DOI: 10.1002/spp2.1303
Addition Information

How to Cite

STRULLU-DERRIEN, C., HéRISSé, A.L., GORAL, T., SPENCER, A.R., KENRICK, P. 2021. . Papers in Palaeontology, 7, 2, 709-719. DOI: /doi/10.1002/spp2.1303

Author Information

  • Christine Strullu-Derrien - Department of Earth Sciences The Natural History Museum London UK
  • Christine Strullu-Derrien - Institut de Systématique, Evolution, Biodiversité, UMR 7205 Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle 45 rue Buffon 75005 Paris France
  • Alain Le Hérissé - Université de Brest, IUEM, UMR 6538 CNRS ‘Géosciences Océan’ Rue Dumont D'Urville 29280 Plouzané France
  • Tomasz Goral - Imaging & Analysis Centre The Natural History Museum London UK
  • Tomasz Goral - Center of New Technologies University of Warsaw Banacha 2C 02-097 Warsaw Poland
  • Alan R.T. Spencer - Department of Earth Sciences The Natural History Museum London UK
  • Alan R.T. Spencer - Department of Earth Science & Engineering Imperial College London London UK
  • Paul Kenrick - Department of Earth Sciences The Natural History Museum London UK

Publication History

    Online Version Hosted By

    Wiley Online Library
    Get Article: Wiley Online Library [Pay-to-View Access] |


    As a large majority of modern green algae are freshwater rather than marine, it can be hypothesized that algae were an important component of early terrestrial environments. However, this component remains overlooked as algal affinities are difficult to decipher, due to the lack of distinctive characters observable in standard light microscopy. Herein, we use a new approach to studying microfossils from the Devonian (407 Ma) Rhynie cherts, renowned as one of the earliest exceptionally preserved terrestrial ecosystem. Using data from confocal laser scanning microscopy, the microfossils were reconstructed in 3D allowing us to gather information on morphological and physiological traits. We document Triskelia scotlandica gen. et sp. nov., which is the resting stage of a new species of microalgae. Numerous individuals were discovered preserved inside the remains of a flooded plant aerial axis. They are shown to be spheroidal to ellipsoidal walled cells, with a pseudo-reticulate surface ornamentation and occasional large openings probably resulting from the germination process. We draw comparison with fossil and modern microorganisms demonstrating morphological convergences in wall ornament and physiological traits, especially with zygospores of modern Chlorophyta. Our description of Triskelia leads us to critically evaluate the Rhynie chert fossils Cymatiosphaera and Pterospermella. We conclude that it is unlikely that the Rhynie cherts contained prasinophycean algae of these types. We suggest that our microfossils are Chlorophyta (green algae) incertae sedis that were highly adapted to the special ecological conditions encountered in a geothermal wetland.

    PalAss Go! URL: | Twitter: Share on Twitter | Facebook: Share on Facebook | Google+: Share on Google+