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The researchers reconstructed the ancient ecosystem by analysing the positions of individual plants across three sites that together cover more than 1,000 square metres. Species from six plant groups lived there, Pfefferkorn and his team report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1. Besides sporting a broad, low canopy of tree ferns, the peat forest contained trees that looked like feather dusters, with trunks twice the height of telephone poles; vines and three species of an enigmatic group called Noeggerathiales — small spore-bearing trees that scientists think are close relatives of the earliest ferns.