Words by Jessica Peace
We put our blinkers on and trampled right past those dinosaurs and piles of bones, heading straight to the ‘Red Zone’ to geek off with the fossilised plants: botany from the Big Bang...
THE FIRST PLANT!!!
It’s not just the dodo we don’t have anymore on the third rock, get ready for some big numbers. Plantlife ‘above water’ started sprouting up during the Silurian Period, about 410 million years ago; they were just tiny little green things hangin’ out by the water’s edge. One of these green things was the Cooksonia… A bit of science: although dead as the dodo now, Cooksonia is the oldest plant with a stem full of ‘vascular’ tissue (full of ‘xylem’ and ‘phloem’ - basically ‘plant veins’, think inside of a celery stick) making it the transitional plant - the inbetweeny plant between bryophytes (mossy stuff without stems) and vascular plants - plants that we have today. You’re welcome.
THE FIRST TREES!!!
These Mummas and Daddies are the ancestors to ALL seed producing plants. ‘Progymnosperms’, woody and spore making themselves, paved the way for all the seed making plant machines we’ve got today. Cheers guys.
THE FIRST SEEDS!!!
So those first plants were hanging out by the water in order to reproduce with spores, like our ferns do today (no funny business necessary). Well that all changed when plants got the horn 360 million years back and plants started getting jiggy with seeds.
Yes, Britain did look like Jurassic park once - even the Yorkshire Dales. The Carboniferous Period, just 300 million years ago gave us our first conifers, pine cones and lycopsids - the oldest vascular plant group EVER.
GIVE US SOME FLOWER FFS!!!
Flowers are fairly new, just a bit older than us really, first blooming about 125 million years ago. Hard to capture in a fossil, NHM has a cute daisy-like number to make you swoon that’s 10 million years old.
… AND A BIT OF LAWN PLEASE
18 million years ago Earth cooled down abit, reigning back on the forests and swamps and giving us our first lawns.
Botany lesson over, get yourselves down to the dinosaurs - ooh and they literally have a piece of moon rock (!!!) x
All this stuff and the dinosaurs and that, FREE MATE.
HOW DO I GET THERE?
Jump off the tube at South Ken, there’s an underpass that takes you right up to the museum. WHEN’S IT OPEN?
Daily 10 til 5