Analyses of genetic material from a multitude of fern species suggest that much of that plant group branched out millions of years after flowering plants appeared, a notion that contradicts many scientists' views of plant evolution.
Botanists estimate that ferns include more than 10,000 living species. Most modern ferns belong to a set of species called the leptosporangiates, which emerged at least 250 million years ago, says Kathleen M. Pryer of Duke University in Durham, N.C. Ferns dominated many ancient landscapes for more than 150 million years.
Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.