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Microevolution and Macroevolution

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It's Hard To Be First Sometimes


Non-vascular plants

Student Exploration

Welcome to the Neighborhood

Everyone knows plants. We see them all the time - the grass we walk on, the weeds people tell us to pull, and let's not forget that stuff we shove in our mouths. When it comes to plants, some take forms quite different than we would think. This is partially do to the fact that we are familiar with a world dominated by Angiosperms or flowering plants. This was not always the case - no angiosperms older than 132 MYA have been found in the fossil record, though molecular studies indicate as a group they may be as old as 180 MYA. But fossils of land plants have been found as old as 475 MYA. That's a lot of time where there were plants but no flowers. What were these plants? Why do flowers matter? How'd they get to land? Fortunately, there are plants still alive which look similar to the oldest fossils or at least very very old fossils, and of course there are scientists studying them. Watch this video to find out what scientists hope to learn by studying the earliest land plants. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVy8BrKn2W4

Extension Investigation

Use the resources below to answer the following questions:

  1. What are Bryophytes? What are included in this group?
  2. Where can liverworts be found geographically? Where are they found environmentally?
  3. Why are liverworts of interest to some scientists? What are these scientists hoping to learn? Be as thorough in your answers as you can be.
  4. When do scientists believe plants first moved onto land? Were there any animals on land when this happened? Were there any animals in the oceans?
  5. How are Bryophytes distinguished from Tracheophytes? How does this distinction change the habitat these different groups can live in and the size they can attain?

Resources Cited

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