Equisetopsida - Fossil Record

Fossil Record

The extant horsetails represent a tiny fraction of Sphenophyte diversity in the past. There were three orders of Equisetopsid; the Pseudoborniales, which first appeared in the late Devonian. Second, the Sphenophyllales which were a dominant member of the Carboniferous understory, and prospered until the mid and early Permian respectively. The Equisetales existed alongside the Sphenophyllales, but diversified as that group disappeared into extinction, gradually dwindling in diversity to today's single genus Equisetum.

The organisms first appear in the fossil record during the late Devonian, a time when land plants were undergoing a rapid diversification, with roots, seeds and leaves having only just evolved. (See Evolutionary history of plants) However, plants had already been on the land for almost a hundred million years, with the first evidence of land plants dating to 475 million years ago.

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