This is the story of plant life on Earth, uniquely retold through some of the most significant fossil discoveries ever made. Palaeobotanist Paul Kenrick explains the importance of each fossil and how it marks a crucial inflection point in the tree of life. Each discovery is illustrated with special photography of original specimens from the Natural History Museum, London.
Beginning with the origins of plant life in the sea, when photosynthesis first evolved in bacteria, Paul Kenrick traces the evolution of plants, through ancient forests and grasslands to familiar flowering plants. From petrified tree trunks to grains of pollen, the breadth of the geological record of plants is quite extraordinary and what emerges are forms that are at first puzzling yet frequently striking and beautiful.
The story of each specimen is interwoven with impressions of the Earth's landscapes and environments at various periods of geological time, revealing the dynamic feedback between plants and animals as well as large-scale planetary processes.
Paul Kenrick is a researcher at the Natural History Museum, London. His scientific research focuses on the early evolution of life on land and its broader impact on key Earth systems, palaeoecology and fossil folklore.