World’s oldest wood

Two 400-million-year-old fossil plants are the oldest known examples of wood. They are small herbs, suggesting that wood did not evolve to help plants grow tall.

Trees did not evolve until about 385 million years ago, at which point they began scrambling to grow taller in order to capture more light. Wood was crucial for this, because it made their trunks sturdier.

But scientists think that was not why wood first evolved. These new fossils are stems only 12 centimetres long, so they wouldn’t need the support. Instead the wood may have improved the flow of water up the stems. Learn more here.

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