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Oldest known Eucalyptus fossils found in South America

Fossils of leaves, flowers, fruits and buds found in Patagonia, Argentina, have been identified as Eucalyptus and date to 51.9 million years ago, making them the oldest scientifically validated Eucalyptus macrofossils and the only ones conclusively identified as naturally occurring outside of Australasia.
A Cornell-led team of researchers, reporting in the June 28 issue of the online journal Public Library of Science One, identified the fossils as belonging to a Eucalyptus subgenus, Symphyomyrtus, which also makes that subgenus older than previously thought.

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First-of-its-Kind Fluorescence Map Offers a New View of the World's Land Plants

Scientists from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., have produced groundbreaking global maps of land plant fluorescence, a difficult-to-detect reddish glow that leaves emit as a byproduct of photosynthesis. While researchers have previously mapped how ocean-dwelling phytoplankton fluoresce, the new maps are the first to focus on land vegetation and to cover the entire globe.
To date, most satellite-derived information related to the health of vegetation has come from "greenness" indicators based on reflected rather than fluorescent light. Greenness typically decreases in the wake of droughts, frosts, or other events that limit photosynthesis and cause green leaves to die and change colour.
However, there is a lag between what happens on the ground and what satellites can detect. It can take days --- even weeks -- before changes in greenness are apparent to satellites.

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Saxifraga oppositifolia
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A flowering plant has been found at an altitude of above 4,505 metres on the central Swiss alps - a European record, Basel University said on Tuesday.
The plant, also known as the purple mountain saxifrage, is common in mountainous areas, but it was found for the first time at such high altitude between solid rock by botanist Christian Koerner.

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Hot Spring Horsetails Oldest Existing Land Plant

Over 100 million years ago, the understory of late Mesozoic forests was dominated by a diverse group of plants of the class Equisetopsida. Today, only one genus from this group, Equisetum (also known as horsetail or scouring rush), exists - and it is a prime candidate for being the oldest extant genus of land plant.
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Equisetum
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Over 100 million years ago, the understory of late Mesozoic forests was dominated by a diverse group of plants of the class Equisetopsida. Today, only one genus from this group, Equisetum (also known as horsetail or scouring rush), exists - and it is a prime candidate for being the oldest extant genus of land plant.
There was some debate as to the evolutionary beginnings of the genus Equisetum. Molecular dating places the divergence of the 15 extant species of the genus around 65 million years ago, yet the fossil record suggests that it occurred earlier than that, perhaps around 136 million years ago. A discovery of a new fossil Equisetum species now places this genus at 150 million years ago, living in an environment where it still can be found today - hot springs.

Source : American Journal of Botany  (PDF)



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Titan Arum

Titan arums are large, rare and have but one native habitat - the tropical rainforests of Sumatra, where 70 percent of its habitat has already been destroyed. On the threatened species list, many plant conservationists have taken up its cause and hope to save it from extinction.
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Barcode Wales project
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Wales to DNA 'barcode' plants

Wales is set to be the first country to produce a DNA barcode for every one of its native flowering plants, scientists claim.
The Barcode Wales project will aim to catalogue all 1,143 species of native flowing plant based on each plant's unique gene sequence.

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600-million-year-old seaweeds lived a short, fast life

About 600 million years ago, when Earth was a little lonely (the Cambrian explosion of diverse life forms hadn't happened yet), the village of Lantian in central China was covered by an oxygenless ocean. The anoxic Lantian Basin would have been especially lonely, mostly unable to support large, complex, multicellular organisms that require oxygen for respiration.
But for brief periods, the water in the basin did hold oxygen, a team of U.S. and Chinese scientists now proposes in a paper published on February 16 in Nature.  In those oxygenated flashes of time seaweeds and what may be algae or worms took hold. They died again when the oxygen dissipated, leaving behind more than 3,000 well-preserved fossils, such as this one preserving a three-centimetre-long seaweed.

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Ancient seaweed is living fossil

Ancient seaweed that have been found growing in the deep sea are "living fossils", researchers have reported.
The two types of seaweed, which grow more than 200m underwater, represent previously unrecognised ancient forms of algae, say the scientists.
As such, the algae could belong to the earliest of all known green plants, diverging up to one billion years ago from the ancestor of all such plants.
Details of the discovery are published in the Journal of Phycology.

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Fungi Helped Plants Move to Land

A new breakthrough by scientists at the University of Sheffield has shed light on how the Earth's first plants began to colonise the land over 470 million years ago by forming a partnership with soil fungi.
The research, which was published in Nature Communications, has provided essential missing evidence showing that an ancient plant group worked together with soil-dwelling fungi to 'green' the Earth in the early Palaeozoic era, nearly half a billion years ago.

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