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Nature. 2002 Jan 3;415(6867):38.

Atmospheric CO2 from fossil plant cuticles.

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Forschungsstellle für Paläobotanik, Geologisch-Paläontogisches Institut, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster, Germany.


Plants respond to changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by regulating the number of stomata in their leaves. In his reconstruction of a continuous, 300-million-year record of atmospheric CO2, Retallack bases his curve on stomatal counts of fossil plant cuticles taken from published micrographs. However, the preservation of cuticles from Permian times is generally too fragmentary for the stomatal index to be reliably determined, the micrographs used could have biased the results, and there are important errors in the supplementary data - all of which cast doubt on the Permian part of Retallack's record.

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