Last updated

Temporal range: Middle Devonian
Thursophyton milleri Nathorst, part.png
Axes of Thursophyton milleri, detail from Nathorst (1915), Fig. 7
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Order: incertae sedis
Genus: Thursophyton
Nath. 1915
Type species
Thursophyton milleri
(J.W.Salter) Nath. [1]

Thursophyton ("plant from Thurso") is a form genus of extinct vascular plants known from anatomically preserved specimens originally described from the Givetian (Middle Devonian) of Scotland, and since reported from other parts of northern Europe. [2] The taxonomic position of Thursophyton has been uncertain; most authors have considered it too imperfectly known to place, or have assigned it to the Lycopodiophyta. Unpublished research suggests similarities with spiny genera of the Zosterophyllopsida. [3]



Thursophyton is a genus of terrestrial vascular plants which flourished in the Middle Devonian period. These plants consisted of aerial stems branching dichotomously, trichotomously or pseudomonopodially, at least the main axes clothed in spirally arranged spines up to 7 mm long, which are not leaves as they are not vascularised and leave no scar when removed. [2] The stems contain an elliptical exarch xylem having both annular and spirally thickened tracheids; very little is known about the sporangia. [3]


The type species is Thursophyton milleri. Other species have been suggested (e.g. T. reidii, T. eberfeldense, T. hostimense, T. vahlbergianum) which are usually regarded as synonyms of T. milleri. Because of the poor preservation of much of this plant material from the Devonian period, it is likely that other synonyms exist e.g. Euthursophyton hamperbachense Mustafa from Germany. [3]

See also

Related Research Articles

Lycophyte Broadly circumscribed group of spore bearing plants

The lycophytes, when broadly circumscribed, are a vascular plant (tracheophyte) subgroup of the kingdom Plantae. They are sometimes placed in a division Lycopodiophyta or Lycophyta or in a subdivision Lycopodiophytina. They are one of the oldest lineages of extant (living) vascular plants; the group contains extinct plants that have been dated from the Silurian. Lycophytes were some of the dominating plant species of the Carboniferous period, and included tree-like species, although extant lycophytes are relatively small plants.


Paleobotany, which is also spelled as palaeobotany, is the branch of botany dealing with the recovery and identification of plant remains from geological contexts, and their use for the biological reconstruction of past environments (paleogeography), and the evolutionary history of plants, with a bearing upon the evolution of life in general. A synonym is paleophytology. It is a component of paleontology and paleobiology. The prefix palaeo- means "ancient, old", and is derived from the Greek adjective παλαιός, palaios. Paleobotany includes the study of terrestrial plant fossils, as well as the study of prehistoric marine photoautotrophs, such as photosynthetic algae, seaweeds or kelp. A closely related field is palynology, which is the study of fossilized and extant spores and pollen.

Lepidodendron is an extinct genus of primitive, vascular, tree-like plants, also known as scale trees, related to the quillworts and lycopsids. They were part of the coal forest flora. They sometimes reached heights of 50 metres, and the trunks were often over 1 m (3.3 ft) in diameter. They thrived during the Carboniferous Period before going extinct. Sometimes erroneously called "giant club mosses", the genus was actually more closely related to modern quillworts than to modern club mosses.

Equisetidae Subclass of ferns

Equisetidae is one of the four subclasses of Polypodiopsida (ferns), a group of vascular plants with a fossil record going back to the Devonian. They are commonly known as horsetails. They typically grow in wet areas, with whorls of needle-like branches radiating at regular intervals from a single vertical stem.

<i>Cooksonia</i> Group of vascular land plants (extinct)

Cooksonia is an extinct group of primitive land plants, treated as a genus, although probably not monophyletic. The earliest Cooksonia date from the middle of the Silurian ; the group continued to be an important component of the flora until the end of the Early Devonian, a total time span of 433 to 393 million years ago. While Cooksonia fossils are distributed globally, most type specimens come from Britain, where they were first discovered in 1937. Cooksonia includes the oldest known plant to have a stem with vascular tissue and is thus a transitional form between the primitive non-vascular bryophytes and the vascular plants.

Zosterophyll Group of extinct land plants that first appeared in the Silurian period

The zosterophylls are a group of extinct land plants that first appeared in the Silurian period. The taxon was first established by Banks in 1968 as the subdivision Zosterophyllophytina; they have since also been treated as the division Zosterophyllophyta or Zosterophyta and the class or plesion Zosterophyllopsida or Zosteropsida. They were among the first vascular plants in the fossil record, and had a world-wide distribution. They were probably stem-group lycophytes, forming a sister group to the ancestors of the living lycophytes. By the late Silurian a diverse assemblage of species existed, examples of which have been found fossilised in what is now Bathurst Island in Arctic Canada.

<i>Baragwanathia</i> Extinct genus of spore-bearing plants

Baragwanathia is a genus of extinct lycopsid plants of Late Silurian to Early Devonian age, fossils of which have been found in Australia, Canada, China and Czechia. The name derives from William Baragwanath who discovered the first specimens of the type species, Baragwanathia longifolia, at Thomson River.

<i>Drepanophycus</i> Extinct genus of spore-bearing plants

Drepanophycus is a genus of extinct plants of the Division Lycopodiophyta of Early to Late Devonian age, found in Eastern Canada and Northeast US, China, Russia, Egypt and various parts of Northern Europe and Britain.

<i>Asteroxylon</i> Extinct genus of spore-bearing plants

Asteroxylon is an extinct genus of vascular plants of the Division Lycopodiophyta known from anatomically preserved specimens described from the famous Early Devonian Rhynie chert and Windyfield chert in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Asteroxylon is considered the most basal member of the Lycopsida.

<i>Psilophyton</i> Genus of fossil plants

Psilophyton is a genus of extinct vascular plants. Described in 1859, it was one of the first fossil plants to be found which was of Devonian age. Specimens have been found in northern Maine, USA; Gaspé Bay, Quebec and New Brunswick, Canada; the Czech Republic; and Yunnan, China. Plants lacked leaves or true roots; spore-forming organs or sporangia were borne on the ends of branched clusters. It is significantly more complex than some other plants of comparable age and is thought to be part of the group from within which the modern ferns and seed plants evolved.

Polysporangiophyte Spore-bearing plants with branched sporophytes

Polysporangiophytes, also called polysporangiates or formally Polysporangiophyta, are plants in which the spore-bearing generation (sporophyte) has branching stems (axes) that bear sporangia. The name literally means many sporangia plant. The clade includes all land plants (embryophytes) except for the bryophytes whose sporophytes are normally unbranched, even if a few exceptional cases occur. While the definition is independent of the presence of vascular tissue, all living polysporangiophytes also have vascular tissue, i.e., are vascular plants or tracheophytes. Extinct polysporangiophytes are known that have no vascular tissue, and so are not tracheophytes.

<i>Aglaophyton</i> Extinct (Devonian) prevascular land plant

Aglaophyton major was the sporophyte generation of a diplohaplontic, pre-vascular, axial, free-sporing land plant of the Lower Devonian. It had anatomical features intermediate between those of the bryophytes and vascular plants or tracheophytes.

<i>Pertica</i> Extinct genus of plants

Pertica is a genus of extinct vascular plants of the Early to Middle Devonian. It has been placed in the "trimerophytes", a strongly paraphyletic group of early members of the lineage leading to modern ferns and seed plants.

Huia is a genus of extinct vascular plants of the Early Devonian. The genus was first described in 1985 based on fossil specimens from the Posongchong Formation, Wenshan district, Yunnan, China.

<i>Adoketophyton</i> Extinct genus of spore-bearing plants

Adoketophyton is a genus of extinct vascular plants of the Early Devonian. The plant was first described in 1977 based on fossil specimens from the Posongchong Formation, Wenshan district, Yunnan, China. These were originally named Zosterophyllum subverticillatum; later the species was transferred to a new genus as Adoketophyton subverticillatum. One cladistic analysis suggested that it is a lycophyte, related to the zosterophylls. Other researchers regard its placement within the vascular plants as uncertain.

Distichophytum is a genus of extinct vascular plants of the Late Silurian (Ludfordian) to Early Devonian (Emsian), around 426 to 393 million years ago. The genus has a tangled taxonomic history, also being known as Bucheria and Rebuchia.

<i>Nothia</i> Extinct genus of spore-bearing plants

Nothia was a genus of Early Devonian vascular plants whose fossils were found in the Rhynie chert in Scotland. It had branching horizontal underground stems (rhizomes) and leafless aerial stems (axes) bearing lateral and terminal spore-forming organs (sporangia). Its aerial stems were covered with small 'bumps' (emergences), each bearing a stoma. It is one of the best described early land plants. Its classification remains uncertain, although it has been treated as a zosterophyll. There is one species, N. aphylla.

<i>Tetraxylopteris</i> Extinct genus of vascular plants

Tetraxylopteris is a genus of extinct vascular plants of the Middle to Upper Devonian. Fossils were first found in New York State, USA. A second species was later found in Venezuela.

Yarravia is a genus of extinct vascular plants mainly known from fossils found in Victoria, Australia. Originally the rocks in which they were found were considered to be late Silurian in age; more recently they have been found to be Early Devonian. Specimens consist only of incomplete leafless stems, some of which bore groups of spore-forming organs or sporangia which were fused, at least at the base.

<i>Taeniocrada</i> Extinct genus of Devonian plants

Taeniocrada is a genus of extinct plants of Devonian age. It is used as a form genus for fossil plants with leafless flattened stems which divided dichotomously and had prominent midribs regarded as containing vascular tissues. It has been suggested that some species assigned to this genus were aquatic.


  1. Nathorst, A.G. (1915). "Zur Devonflora des westlichen Norwegens". Bergens Museums Aarbok. 3 (9): 1–34.
  2. 1 2 Arber, E.A. Newell (1921). Devonian Floras: a study of the origin of Cormophyta. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  3. 1 2 3 Perry, Ian (1989). The fossil flora of Shetland and surrounding areas (PDF) (PhD). University of Bristol.