Fern fossil. Rock containing fossilised fronds of a fern dating from the Upper Carboniferous period of 325-290 million years ago. The Carboniferous period was a time when ferns dominated the land and, when they died, they formed large beds of coal (a form of carbon). This led to the name of Carboniferous for this geological time period. Fossils appear when rocks form around objects that have been buried in mud or ash. As the rock forms, the shape and anatomy of buried animals or plants can be preserved. Ferns are flowerless plants that reproduce using spores. They first appeared some 350 million years ago.
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