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OriginsThe Search for Our Prehistoric Past$
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Frank H. T. Rhodes

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501702440

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501702440.001.0001

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The Blossoming Earth

The Blossoming Earth

(p.162) 11 The Blossoming Earth

Frank H. T. Rhodes

Cornell University Press

This chapter describes the intimate ties between the early history of animal life and plant life. More broadly, it examines the changing diversity of plant groups through geologic time, and how the changing vegetation has left a profound impact on animal life, and vice versa. The chapter first describes the gymnosperms, “naked seeds” in which the fertilized embryos are protected and nourished but not enclosed in an ovary. Angiosperms—the earliest flowering plants—began to flourish by mid-Cretaceous times, and unlike the naked seeds of their gymnosperm predecessors, the seeds of angiosperms are covered and protected within a carpel or ovary, providing protection against pests and desiccation, as well as providing a vehicle for seed dissemination, as carpels evolved into edible fruits in certain groups of flowering plants. Finally, the chapter describes Cenozoic flora—their increasing modernization, their changing distribution, and the spread of grasses.

Keywords:   plants, plant history, gymnosperms, plant distribution, angiosperms, Cenozoic flora, gymnosperm seeds, angiosperm seeds, flowering plants

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