Key Earth Science Links
Ordovician/Silurian Period—Oldest vascular land plants
The Biota of Early Terrestrial Ecosystems: The Rhynie Chert--Learning Resource, University of Aberdeen. A great resource. This site provides sections on the history, age, geologic setting, chert description, plant and animal taphonomy, process of fossilization (silicification), fossil fauna (descriptions and pictures), fossil flora (descriptions and pictures), evidence for plant and animal interactions, interpretations of the environment of deposition with modern analogs, significance to science, glossary, and bibliography.
How Plants Conquered the Land. Hans Steur, Ellecom, The Netherlands. Good short description of the oldest Silurian vascular land plants, with pictures. Site also provides descriptions of Early Devonian plants from the Rhynie chert, which are associated with some of the earliest evidence of land animals (arthropods), with pictures. Also good discussion of Carboniferous plants .
Early Land Plants--The Rhynie Flora, University of California, Berkeley. Short description of the rise of vascular land plants, with descriptions of important fossils. Links are provided to a glossary of fossil and plant-part terminology.
When Plants Conquered the Land. BBC News. Short news story from September, 2003, describing the find of fossil plant spores from Ordovician rocks beneath the desert of Oman. The spores are interpreted to be from land-living liverwort like plants, which would be the oldest (443 to 489 million years old) evidence of land plants. Only the spores were found, the fossil plant that produced the spores is unknown. The oldest whole land plant fossil remains Cooksonia from the Silurian .
The Oldest Land Plant. Angela Spivy. Endeavors. Short article with pictures explaining how scientists buried modern liverworts and then let them rot so that they could compare the remnants to the spores and fossil remnants of possible liverwort-like plant remains from the early Paleozoic.