Story: Fossils

Magnified bracken spore

Magnified bracken spore

Because each plant species has unique pollen grains or spores, by examining them in wetland peat deposits researchers can tell what types of plants grew there at a particular time. Fossil pollen or spores have been used to date Polynesian settlement of New Zealand. The coincidence of a sudden, very marked and sustained decline in pollen from trees with a sudden increase in bracken spores (a plant which colonises open ground) indicates that forests had been destroyed by deliberate burning, and that bracken occupied the bare ground.

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Reference: D100024
Photograph by Ian Raine

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How to cite this page:

Hamish Campbell, 'Fossils - Microfossils', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 24 July 2024)

Story by Hamish Campbell, published 12 Jun 2006