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How Earth's earliest trees grew

A Devonian Xinicaulis tree trunk fossil from northwest China. Photo via PNAS

Scientists have used fossils to discern how some of Earth's earliest trees called cladoxylopsids, which helped to jumpstart the planet's earliest forests about 374 million years ago, actually managed to grow, per the Los Angeles Times. Cladoxylopsids have no living modern ancestors and are believed to be most closely related to ferns.

Why it matters: The discovery helps us to better understand how some of the key inhabitants of our planet's first forests managed to survive. In turn, knowing more about cladoxylopsids could help shed light on how early plants helped to make Earth's climate habitable for the first animals by reducing the planet's carbon dioxide levels.