The establishment of early land plants is considered an important evolutionary milestone in the history of Earth. The evolution of plants is regarded as an important aspect of biological evolution, especially the evolution of the terrestrial plants, greening various landmasses, and diversifying into different species of land plants. There are several theories of evolution complementing and contrasting each other, hypothesizing the timescale of early land plants. The hypothesis on the coevolution of land plants and Earthâ€™s System can be tested by establishing the timescale of early land plant evolution. The scarcity of early land plant megafossils and stratigraphic controls on the dissemination of these plants make the fossil record an unreliable source. The earliest known fossil of a vascular land plant was placed under the genus Cooksonia that dates about 410 million years ago in the Early Silurian period of the Paleozoic era. There are reports stating that the land plants had originated in the Ordovician period of the Paleozoic era which is about 500 million years ago. The fossil record of spores combined with other techniques such as phylogenetic analysis has been employed to identify the accurate period of evolution of the land plants. The molecular clock methodology using already known fossil record for calibrating and constraining molecular evolution to time may create a timescale for the land plants of the planet. However, the relationship between the four principal lineages of land plants, for example, hornworts, liverworts, mosses, and tracheophytes remains unresolved.
Types of Vascular plants
Vascular plants, otherwise known as tracheophytes, are defined as the land plants that are characterized by the lignified (xylem) and the non-lignified tissues (phloem). There are three primary characteristics of Vascular plants:
They have vascular tissues that are used to distribute resources through a plant. Xylem and Phloem are the two kinds of vascular tissue that are closely associated and located adjacent to each other. The sequence of one xylem and one phloem adjacent to each other is called a vascular bundle. Through the evolution of vascular tissue in plants, the vascular plants develop into larger sizes when compared to non-vascular plants.
The sporophyte is the principal generation phase in which spores are produced and are diploid.
They have true roots, leaves, and stems.
The early land plants were separated into two major divisions Vascular and non-vascular plants. The main difference in the non-vascular plants is the absence of vascular tissues (xylem and phloem). Also, the non-vascular plants consist of the gametophyte and produce gametes that are haploid with one set of chromosomes per cell. The vascular plants are further sub-divided into three types which include horsetails and ferns, gymnosperms (conifers), and angiosperms.
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