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Revolutions that made the Earth$
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Tim Lenton and Andrew Watson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199587049

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587049.001.0001

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The Neoproterozoic

The Neoproterozoic

(p.262) 14 The Neoproterozoic
Revolutions that made the Earth

Tim Lenton

Andrew Watson

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows how we can get some clues as to the nature of the first colonizers from what happens when bare rock is colonised today. The first organisms to get a foothold are usually not bryophytes, but lichens. Lichens are remarkable not only for their ability to colonise bare rock, but because they are a partnership between quite different types of life. The Swiss botanist Simon Schwendener was the first to realise that lichens are not single organisms, but a symbiosis between fungi and algae, across two of the fundamental divisions of life. By dint of his talent for botany, and a mastery of techniques of light microscopy, he rose steadily to become Professor at the University of Basel. Schwendener put forward his ‘dual lichen’ hypothesis, which, until the end of the nineteenth century, continued to be vigorously rejected by the lichenoligists of the day.

Keywords:   first colonisers, bare rock, bryophytes, lichens, dual lichen hypothesis, Simon Schwendener

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