Photo credit: Falcon-Lang et al. 2016
The tiny fossil, on the left, measures just half a centimeter long.
When triceratops and velociraptors stalked the forests of the Cretaceous, at a time when flowering plants were just beginning to emerge, the planet was still dominated by conifers and pine trees. Now researchers have uncovered what is believed to be the oldest fossil of a pine tree ever discovered, a tiny piece of charcoal dating to around 140 million years ago, which shows that their evolution was driven – and the landscape dominated – by intense forest fires.