Virtual Museum of Canada

Miguasha : From water to land (The Miguasha National Park)


A small, unobtrusive leafless plant grew quietly on the edges of the ancient Miguasha estuary. Its fossils are rare and often incomplete, such that paleobotanists assign it with hesitation to the genus Protobarinophyton.Protobarinophytonmagnifying(76 kb) It is only found in a thin layer within the lower part of the Escuminac Formation.

Protobarinophyton was a member of the barinophytes, a group whose phylogenetic position is still a matter of debate. It may have been something of an evolutionary experiment because its fertile branches resemble nothing seen in any other plant group. Its sporangia, arranged in two lateral rows on each side of a thin stem, formed small clusters called strobili. Barinophytes were heterosporic, meaning that they produced both male and female spores. Strangely, both spore types are contained in the same sporangia, unlike other heterosporic plants – including progymnosperms, lycopsids and ferns – which contain the two spores in separate sporangia.


Title: Protobarinophyton
Author: Parc national de Miguasha
Sources: Parc national de Miguasha
Year: 2007

Sporangia of a barinophyte from the lower part of the Escuminac Formation.