Mosses Boost Oxygen Levels

October 18, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. primitive / ˈprɪm ɪ tɪv / (adj.) – having a prehistoric characteristic
Example: Most primitive humans lived in caves.

2. proliferation / prəˌlɪf əˈreɪ ʃən / (n.) – the process of rapid production
Example: The proliferation of abnormal cells can lead to diseases.

3. convert / kənˈvɜrt / (v.) – to turn something into another form
Example: Evaporation is the process in which liquid is converted into gas.

4. evolution / ˌɛv əˈlu ʃən / (n.) – a process of development
Example: We watched a film that showed the evolution of humans. 

5. accountable / əˈkaʊn tə bəl / (adj.) – describing someone who is responsible for something
Example: The residents think that the factory should be accountable for the contamination of the water in the area.


Read the text below.
Earth, as we know it today, would not have existed without primitive land plants, study says.

A study featured in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences proposed that the proliferation of early plants such as moss helps increase oxygen levels. A moss is a type of bryophyte /ˈbraɪ əˌfaɪt/ or a flowerless plant that produces a reproductive cell known as spore, which can create a new life form without another reproductive cell. It usually grows in dim areas, such as moist earth, tree trunks, and rocks where it can preserve its moisture.

Believed to have inhabited the land around 470 million years ago, bryophytes allow sedimentary rocks to absorb organic carbon, which is eventually converted into oxygen.

Tim Lenton, a professor of climate change and the head of the said study, concluded that life on Earth would have been impossible without the evolution of the humble moss. Results of the study revealed that mosses are accountable for around 30 percent of the total amount of energy produced by all plants in an ecosystem. This contributes to an oxygen-filled atmosphere that allows living organisms to survive and evolve.

Scientific beliefs suggest that oxygen first materialized in a phenomenon known as The Great Oxidation Event around 2.4 billion years ago. Oxygen accounts for approximately 21 percent of the air in the atmosphere.

A study by the Department of Anesthesiology in Heinrich-Heine-University /ˈhaɪn rɪk ˈhaɪ nə ˌyu nəˈvɜr sɪ ti/ revealed that humans take in an average of 5 to 6 milliliters of oxygen per minute at a temperature of 28 degrees Celsius.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you believe that without mosses, living things would not have existed? Why or why not?
·         What do you think are other factors that helped living things survive and evolve? Please explain.

Discussion B

·         How can we protect the Earth’s atmosphere?
·         In what ways can we sustain life on Earth? 

October 18, 2016