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Springsponges; gelascaphians colonizing dry areas
Topic Started: Sep 28 2010, 11:04 PM (427 Views)

Size: 4mm - 8cm
Time: mid-Carboniferous and later
Diet: photosynthetic
Habitat: continental desert

The first form of gelascaphian to colonize seasonally dry areas, the springsponges are an unusual, highly derived form of podplants. A springsponge's pods dry out and burst open, and its spores are so light that the wind can carry them great distances -- this small size also allows the plant to produce colossal numbers of spores. While the vast majority of the spores fall on dry land, some will land on a wetter area -- oasis, spring, or even a low spot where rainwater collects -- and grow explosively, soaking up water (thus their name). Importantly (and unlike other gelascaphian spores), springsponge spores can survive up to a year in a dormant state, allowing them to wait for rain before sprouting. Springsponges grow exceptionally quickly, completing their life cycle within as little as two months -- seasonally dry lands may rapidly turn green with springsponges. A month later, the land will be completely barren, as if the plants had never grown - but the spores remain in the soil, to sprout when the rains come again.

The ability for spores to remain dormant is a tremendous evolutionary innovation for gelascaphians, and will shape the group's future for ages to come.
Edited by Vultur-10, Sep 28 2010, 11:06 PM.
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