Phytoliths as climate clues

Tiny silica plant structures from soil could track temperature changes

By Sid Perkins, 16:54 PM May 27, 2009

TORONTO — Analyses of tiny silica structures that form in the leaves and wood of many plants can yield information about the temperature in which the plants grew, a new study suggests.

Phytoliths — which means “plant stones” — are minuscule, often distinctly shaped crystals of silica that form in vegetation as a plant grows. And they’re long-lasting: Paleontologists have used phytoliths trapped in fossils to infer the diet of some dinosaurs (SN:10/20/01, p. 248). Now, scientists might be ab...

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