A group of Chinese scientists from the Nanking Institute of Geology and Paleontology discovered fossilized remains of trees ranging in age from 372 to 393 million years. Ancient plants from the class of cladoxylopsids differed in the special structure of the water-conducting tissues and looked like giant mushrooms.
The find was made in a desert area in northwest China. Thanks to the deposits of silica, which saturate the trees of the neighboring volcano, fossils retained their intravital anatomy. In addition to surprising similarities with fungi, these cladoxylopsides had a unique structure of water-conducting tissues, or xylem. If the modern plant xylem is a ring of vascular bundles, then they have consisted of “pillars” located in the outer layer of the hollow stem.
Due to the features of the internal structure, these trees were quite high – about 8-12 meters. According to scientists, cladoxylopsids died out 358 million years ago, unable to withstand competition with other tree species.