The oldest land plants — first and foremost, moss played a key role in the development of life on Earth, because due to their activities in the atmosphere of our planet appeared oxygen in the quantities in which it can be seen today. According to British experts from the University of Exeter, that the mosses owe their existence to a complex biological species, including humans.
To date, it is considered that the first land plants on our planet more resembled modern bryophytes — they have no partly similar to the circulatory system, the ability to transport water and minerals. However a primitive structure did not prevent the ancient mosses spread on quite large area, so the very fact of his life to influence the composition of the atmosphere across the planet.
Scientists conducted a computer simulation and found that mosses, in all likelihood, it took “only” about 50 million years to the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere closer to the modern figures. About 420-400 years ago the percentage of oxygen in the air, according to scientists, reached 21 percent, and since then remained at about the same level. This, according to scientists, and has become a key condition for the development of the most complex of the currently existing forms of life, including human evolution.
Today, as I remind the researchers, the amount of oxygen in the planet’s atmosphere remains generally stable, as the vital functions of various living creatures and natural processes together constitute the established system, equalizing production and consumption of this substance. The oxygen not only allows humans and animals to breathe, but is converted into ozone, thereby protecting the Earth from dangerous surplus of electromagnetic radiation.
“I’m fascinated by the idea that, if not for the evolution of the humble moss, one of the people today would not be”, — commented on the results of a study published in the journal PNAS, its lead author Tim Lenton.