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The Plantae or plants form a kingdom in the classification. They have a metabolism based on photosynthesis. The study of fossil plants is also called Paleobotany. Plant life on land came much later than marine life. On land, lichens and algae were the first to be present. The first real plants appeared only in the lower Silurian. In the middle Devonian came the larger Dewclaw-likes and tree ferns. Only then the first forests occured. In the upper Devonian the first seed carriers such as seed ferns and fern palms evolved.
The Carboniferous period is characterized by lush vegetation. Worldwide, many coal packages were formed. In large swamps thick layers of peat were formed. By compression of the peat, coal was eventualy formed.
The best-known groups of plants from the Carboniferous period are the horsetails, ferns, conifers and Dewclaws. Also the first conifers developed at the end of this period. Well known fossils from the Carboniferous include the Calamites, Neuropteris and Lepidodendron. Flowering plants occured for the first time in the lower Cretaceous period. Trees and palms evolved. Flowering plants still dominate the plant kingdom today.
The following groups of Plantae are included in our Identification System:
- Pteridophyta, including Sphenopsida
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