In DepthPaleontology

Evolution accelerated when life set foot on land

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Science  13 Oct 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6360, pp. 158
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6360.158

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Life probably originated in water, but nature did some of its best work once organisms made landfall. That's what Geerat Vermeij has concluded after surveying fossils and family trees to discover where and when some of life's greatest modern advances evolved. He compiled a list of key innovations that showed up in several groups of organisms and provided a big competitive edge and was able to find existing fossil evidence to date the origins of a dozen. Nine innovations appeared first on land and later in the sea and two never made it back to the sea. The conclusion: Almost all these seemingly out-of-the-blue innovations, from fungus farming by insects to the water transport systems that made tall trees possible, came about after plants and animals learned how to survive on land some 440 million years ago, Vermeij, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Davis, reports.