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News Link • Biology, Botany and Zoology

Image of the Day: 400-million-year-old plant

• http://www.dvice.com, Evan Ackerman
 Trees and ferns hadn't figured themselves out yet, but a prehistoric sort of plant called a lycopod (which sported primitive hook-like leaves) was probably crawling all over the ground, forming tangled mats of vines. The picture above is a digital reconstruction by UC Berkeley grad student Jeff Benca of a fossil lycopod that was squished into a rock 375 million years ago:

 To put the age of this plant in perspective, it lived and died way, way, way before dinosaurs, the earliest of which showed up a mere 230 million years ago. The only other thing on land besides plants during the early Devonian were arthropods (primitive insects), the largest of which was likely a scorpion. It's relatively rare for something as fragile as a plant to be preserved in such good condition from so long ago, but the perspective that it gives us on the history of life is a fascinating one.

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