Fossils and Geologic Time Topics

Plants (Part 1)

Plants can live underwater or on dry land.  They are an important part of the fossil record. 

Stromatolites are laminated, cabbage-like structures formed by colonies of bacteria called cyanobacteria.  These were once called blue-green algae.

Stromatolites are structures created by colonies of cyanobacteria. Stromatolites are the oldest fossil forms on earth. They have existed since about 3.5 billion years ago. (Photograph by Parvinder Sethi)

Coccoliths and diatoms are plant fossils from plankton, which is made up of microscopic floating marine organisms.  Coccoliths are calcareous structures made by the plankton.  Diatoms are siliceous structures made by the plankton. 

Lycopsids, also called scale trees, are common plant fossils in southwestern Virginia in late Paleozoic coal beds.  These trees have existed since the Devonian.  They were much more common in the Mississippian and Pennsylvanian

320 to 286 million years ago
360 to 320 million years ago
408 to 360 million years ago
570 to 245 million years ago
Scale Tree Fossils
Scale tree fossils (Photographs by Parvinder Sethi)