11 Mar 2016

Oldest-known fossil of pine tree discovered

9:38 am on 11 March 2016

Scientists have discovered the oldest-known fossil of a pine tree.

The charred pine twigs date back 140 million years, to a time when fires raged across large tracts of land.

The research suggests the tree's evolution was shaped in the fiery landscape of the Cretaceous period, where oxygen levels were much higher than today, fuelling intense and frequent wildfires.

The specimens - which are described in Geology journal - were preserved as charcoal within rocks from a quarry in Nova Scotia, Canada.

They probably came from trees resembling the Scots Pine that now covers large areas of Scotland.