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'Oldest' plant fossil shakes up evolution

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'A student in Stockholm, Sweden made the find while examining fossilised microbes dating from 1.6 billion years ago from rocks in Chitrakoot' (stock photo)

'A student in Stockholm, Sweden made the find while examining fossilised microbes dating from 1.6 billion years ago from rocks in Chitrakoot' (stock photo)

PA Archive/Press Association Images

'A student in Stockholm, Sweden made the find while examining fossilised microbes dating from 1.6 billion years ago from rocks in Chitrakoot' (stock photo)

The world's oldest fossilised plants have been found in rocks in central India, pushing back the first evolution of complex life on Earth by hundreds of millions of years.

It is a finding that suggests the so-called 'Cambrian Explosion' of plant and animal life about 600 million years ago may have taken much longer to develop than previously thought.

A student in Stockholm, Sweden made the find while examining fossilised microbes dating from 1.6 billion years ago from rocks in Chitrakoot. As she looked at the samples through a microscope, she spotted something rather indistinct that seemed too advanced for the period. But then, a few slides later, she found herself staring at a clump of what looked like complex, multi-cellular red algae.

Previously the oldest accepted fossil of any form of complex life was from 1.2 billion years ago.

Irish Independent