Sunday, August 7, 2011


Prototaxites (pro-toe-tax-eye-teez) is a mysterious genus of life form that lived from the Silurian to the Devonian Period. Prototaxites was first believed to be a conifer-like plant, but is now believed to be a giant fungus or huge liverwort. It was up to about 30 feet tall and could be three feet wide. Prototaxities was the biggest life form on land of its time.

Prototaxites looked like a giant tree trunk with no branches or leaves. It's possible that Prototaxities was so tall so its spores could move far away so that it would not have to compete with other Prototaxities for what it needed.

Prototaxites was worldwide and died out when vascular plants took over.


  1. Wsan't Prototaxites first researched by Charles Dawson, of Piltdown Man infamy?

  2. Yes, that's right.

    "Canadian paleontologist Charles Dawson published the first research on Prototaxites in 1859, based on specimens found along the shores of GaspĂ© Bay in Quebec, Canada. Hueber pored through Dawson’s field notebooks, written 'in a completely illegible scrawl.'"

  3. I have looked at many papers and have yet to have this question confirmed, the question being, is there any evolutionary significance to Prototaxites and if so, are there any implications as to its significance to evolutionary and ecological biology if it were proven to either be a fungus or a rolled-up liverwort mat? I find the latter hypothesis to be less convincing on many levels, however, I would like to understand the implications if one of these were to be conclusively proven.