Vertebrate fossils can help scientists better understand evolutionary timelines. But plant fossils give paleontologists and paleobotanists a more complete story.
How Fossilized Plants Tell Us About the Evolution of Animals
Published: October 25, 2019
Ian Miller: Here in the Denver basin, you can see the end of the time of the dinosaurs.
And you can see the rocks that tell us about how the world recovered from this mass extinction.
But to tell the recovery story, you really need good fossils and you need to be able to place them in time.
You need to look for a lot of different kinds of vertebrate fossils.
But to see the rest of it we’ve got to find the leaves of plants, wood, fossil wood, and pollen - to see how the plants change.
Plants are sort of the keys to helping us understand how the whole world comes back after a great extinction.
The first thing we see are the ferns.
But one of the big surprises was this incredible abundance of palm spores.
This is a world dominated by palms.
It’s also where we find the earliest legumes. What we think could be the food source for new groups of mammals to exist here on this landscape.
So, you can imagine in a world that’s revegetating and re-diversifying, from a plant perspective…
That’s the story that’s really here, this incredible diverse world of the time of the dinosaurs that die off. The ferns, the palms and then this incredible diversification of seed types and the animals that come with it.