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An earlier appearance for the first land plants

Pollen fossils could be remains of first modern land plants

Newly discovered fossilized pollen spores suggest that modern plant life evolved earlier than previously thought, researchers report online April 17 in Science.

Until now, the earliest fossil evidence of vascular land plants — plants with special tissues to efficiently transport water, minerals and food — came from the early Silurian period, which started about 444 million years ago. Now, fossils have been found that show vascular land plants existed in the mid to late Ordovician period, as early as 450 million years ago, the scientists say.

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