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Ancient superfood: form of red algae discovered as oldest plant on Earth

Newly found fossils suggest some plants may be hundreds of millions of years older than was previously estimated, including ancient superfoods like seaweed. Doctor Seaweed® investigates!

ancient superfood

Ancient superfood: what was discovered?

What the scientists discovered were thread-like fossils within fleshy, more complex colonies in sedimentary rock in central India.

The fossils suggest that plants which resemble red algae were present 1.6 billion years ago, in areas which were shallow sea back then. Swedish scientists say that this discovery could change our timeline of advanced life forming, and make us judge again how long well known ancient superfoods and plants have been around.

The earliest displays of life on Earth are over 3.5 billion years old. These life forms were simply single-celled microscopic structures which evolved into bigger, multi-cellular eukaryotic organisms, containing a nucleus and certain other structures within a membrane.

But these new fossils could potentially alter our perspective of when we think different cells evolved, especially for ancient superfoods and plants. They were identified as containing parts of chloroplasts, i.e. structures within plant cells involved in photosynthesis.

Therese Sallstedt of the Swedish Museum of Natural History discovered some of the fossils herself, and speaking to BBC News, she said they were “the oldest fossil plants that we know of in Earth, in the form of 1.6 billion year old red algae.”

Red algae is a form of seaweed: an ancient superfood that’s been getting even more popular in recent months.

Sallstedt described the findings as showing us that “advanced life in the form of eukaryotes (like plants, fungi and us humans/animals) have a much deeper history on Earth than what we previously have thought.”

Ancient superfood: has it affected the tree of life?

These fossils potentially change scientific perspective on the timeline of plant evolution, ancient superfoods and life on Earth overall.

We all know that algae and seaweed are ancient superfoods, but this discovery shows potentially just how old they actually are. The oldest known red algae dated back 1.2 billion years, prior to this new discovery. This means that these fossils are 400 million years older than any other algae remnants, suggesting the tree of life may have begun much earlier than previously estimated.

Professor Stefan Bengstan was co-researcher and is a member of the Swedish Museum of Natural History. He states that “you cannot be 100% sure about material this ancient, as there is no DNA remaining, but the characters agree quite well with the morphology and structure of red algae.”

It’s always hard to find concrete evidence for ancient life, and some sceptics argue that red algae should be counted in a category of its own, rather than as a plant. But this much we know for certain: seaweed and algae are ancient superfoods which have been around for a very long time indeed, and there is still much to uncover about them.

Ancient superfood and its modern uses

In modern times, red algae and various species of seaweed are used for several different purposes, like a salt replacement, flavour enhancer, and as nori used to wrap sushi. This is partly because high quality seaweed is more readily available than ever thanks to companies like Seaweed & Co.

Seaweed & Co. deliver the finest quality seaweed every time. Their seaweed is sourced from the pure waters of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland, and contains many vitamins and minerals to aid various aspects of your health. With Seaweed & Co, you know you’re getting an amazing species and amazing quality, making this ancient superfood even more super.

Get in touch today and find out more about what Seaweed and Co does, and how you can reap the benefits of this ancient superfood.

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