If we take a troll in the past, when Earth was just born, the continents must have had no life except microbes. With time, with life, plants started spreading greenery that provided habitats for animals. The timing of these episode were initially deciphered using fossil plants that are around 420 million years old. However, a new research published in the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" shows that these episodes might have occurred a 100 million years ago, which could completely change the perceptions of evolution of the Earth's biosphere.
The team at the university used the molecular rock methodology, which integrated evidence on genetic differences between fossil constraints and living species on age of their shared ancestors so as to create an evolutionary timescale that looks into the gaps of the fossil record. Plants are one of the major contributors to chemical weathering that occurs in continental rocks, a key process that adjusts Earth's atmosphere and climate for millions of years. The spread of plants on the planet increasingly led to escalation of continental weathering that led to a dramatic decrease of the levels of the greenhouse gas - carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and global cooling. Any previous research that is done to model these changes in the atmosphere accepted the plant fossil record at face value. The new research proves that these fossil ages underestimates the origins of the land plants and these models needs to get revised.
By: Neha Maheshwari