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Reconstruction of the transverse view of Winfrenatia.

Winfrenatia is the oldest known terrestrial lichen,[1] known from fossils preserved in the lower Devonian Rhynie chert.

It comprises a thallus, made of layered, aseptate hyphae, with a number of depressions on its top surface. Each depression contains a net of hyphae holding a sheathed cyanobacterium. The fungus appears to be related to the Zygomycetes, and the photosynthetic partner of photobiont resembles the coccoid cyanobacteria Gloeocapsa and Chroococcidiopsis. [1][2][3] There may be two separate algae, making the lichen a symbiosis of three organisms.[3]


  1. ^ a b Taylor, T.N.; Hass, H.; Remy, W.; Kerp, H. (1995). "The oldest fossil lichen". Nature. 378: 244. doi:10.1038/378244a0. 
  2. ^ Taylor, T.N.; Hass, H.; Kerp, H. (1997). "A cyanolichen from the lower Devonian Rhynie chert". American Journal of Botany. 84 (7): 992–1004. ISSN 0002-9122. PMID 21708654. doi:10.2307/2446290. 
  3. ^ a b Karatygin, I.V.; Snigirevskaya, N.S.; Vikulin, S.V. (2009). "The most ancient terrestrial lichen Winfrenatia reticulata: A new find and new interpretation". Paleontological Journal. 43: 107–114. doi:10.1134/S0031030109010110.