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Key plant groups pushed back tens of millions of years

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Ancient confiers have been backdated tens of millions of years:

Paleobotanists exploring a site near the Dead Sea have unearthed a startling connection between today’s conifer forests in the Southern Hemisphere and an unimaginably distant time torn apart by a global cataclysm. Exquisitely preserved plant fossils show the podocarps, a group of ancient evergreens that includes the massive yellowwood of South Africa and the red pine of New Zealand, thrived in the Permian period, more than 250 million years ago. That’s tens of millions of years earlier than thought, and it shows that early podocarps survived the “great dying” at the end of the Permian, the worst mass extinction the planet has ever known.Elizabeth Pennisi, “Middle East fossils push back origin of key plant groups millions of years” at Science

The report backdates the origin, not only of podocarps (the evergreens), but of seed ferns and cycad types of plants. Those are millions of years of natural selection acting on random mutation (Darwinism) that these plants did not turn out to have. If Darwinism seemed unbelievable before, what do you think now?

Abstract: The latitudinal biodiversity gradient today has deep roots in the evolutionary history of Earth’s biota over geologic time. In the marine realm, earliest fossil occurrences at low latitudes reveal a tropical cradle for many animal groups. However, the terrestrial fossil record—especially from drier environments that are thought to drive evolutionary innovation—is sparse. We present mixed plant-fossil assemblages from Permian equatorial lowlands in present-day Jordan that harbor precocious records of three major seed-plant lineages that all became dominant during the Mesozoic, including the oldest representative of any living conifer family. These finds offer a glimpse of the early evolutionary origins of modern plant groups in disturbance-prone tropical habitats that are usually hidden from observation. (paywall) – A hidden cradle of plant evolution in Permian tropical lowlands, Patrick Blomenkemper1, Hans Kerp1, Abdalla Abu Hamad2, William A. DiMichele3, Benjamin Bomfleur1,* Science 21 Dec 2018: Vol. 362, Issue 6421, pp. 1414-1416 DOI: 10.1126/science.aau4061 More.

See also: Researchers: Flowers bloomed in early Jurassic, 50 million years earlier than thought “Researchers were not certain where and how flowers came into existence because it seems that many flowers just popped up in the Cretaceous from nowhere,” explains lead author Qiang Fu” It now looks as though they just popped into the Jurassic from nowhere.

A complex network of genes helps plants cope with DNA damage


Stasis: Life goes on but evolution does not happen


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