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Nov 5, 2020

Geologist helps confirm date of earliest land plants on Earth

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A new UO study confirms what earth scientists have long suspected: Plants first appeared on land about 460 million years ago, in the middle of a 45-million-year-long geologic period known as the Ordovician.

Authored by geologist Greg Retallack and published in the international journal The Palaeobotanist, the study describes a series of plant impressions in an Ordovician rock deposit from Douglas Dam in Tennessee. While previous studies have revealed fossil evidence of invertebrate animals in the deposit, Retallack’s is the first to identify whole fossil , including mosses, liverworts and lichens.

Retallack, director of the Condon Fossil Collection at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History, said those whole-plant impressions offer a key support to Ordovician land plant theories.

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