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Earliest fossil forests were complex

Although fossil plants are well documented from the Silurian Period of Earth history, spores from land plants are known from the preceding Ordovician and Cambrian Periods. However, it is not until the Mid-Devonian that fossil forests appear in the fossil record. The Gilboa Forest from New York State was first described in the 1920s and it became known as the earliest fossil forest. It has the same status today. Only one plant was known from this forest – the Eospermatopteris, or “ancient seed fern” – thought to grow up to 10 metres above the ground. They were not woody, but they had characters that that suggest affinities with tree ferns. The original analysis reinforced the evolutionary assumption that the earliest terrestrial systems were essentially simple. Recent research has changed all this.

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One Response to Earliest fossil forests were complex

  1. Thanks Dr. Tyler,

    Last night I watched this video on the oldest fossilized forest:

    World’s Oldest Fossilized Forest Unearthed in NY – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBp3obZkX4o

    And was struck by Professor Stein’s statement at the 4:47 minute mark;

    “We are dealing with plants that are ‘impossibly old’, 387 million years old!”

    You can see the perplexity he has in trying to reconcile the sudden complexity he sees first hand in the ‘first fossilized forest’ with the gradualness he imagines to have happened in his underlying assumption of Darwinism. He also states ‘we want to know what happened’. Well, I suggest he completely abandon his neo-Darwinian assumptions if he really wants to ‘know what happened’;

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