"With enough time," Boyce said, "that plant matter was eventually transformed into the coal that powered the Industrial Revolution and helped usher in the modern age.Coal, as dead plant matter, is obviously based in short-term biological processes.
"Central to the evolutionary lag model is the assumption that lignin is the dominant biochemical constituent of coal," Nelsen said.We have an ever-wet tropics now, but we don't have a hole to fill," Boyce said."There's only a narrow band in time in Earth's history where you had both a wet tropics and widespread holes to fill in the tropics, and that's the Carboniferous." During the Carboniferous, amphibian-like creatures were still getting used to life on land, and hawk-sized insects flitted through forests very different from what exists today."Much of the scientific community was really enamored with this simple, straightforward explanation," said Kevin Boyce, a geobiologist at Stanford's School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences.
"So, it has not only refused to die, it has become a conventional wisdom." In the new study, Boyce and his colleagues took a closer look at this "evolutionary lag" hypothesis, examining the idea from various biochemical and geological perspectives.
"In the modern world, all trees are seed plants more or less.