The analysis suggests that there was a mass extinction event at the time of the end-Permian, on land - and that it happened at the same time as the marine end-Permian extinction.
Plants, in their fossil forms, can reveal a great deal about past environments and climates.
A drying climate caused a mass extinction among plants, but paved the way for the ancestors of modern reptiles, mammals, and birds.
Australia was a different place 275 million years ago - wild storms surged through icy seas, and marine animals lived a tenuous existence. But brittle stars had a survival strategy.
Climate was the main factor that triggered the evolution of warm-bloodedness in mammals and the subsequent mammalian evolutionary success.
Despite its insidious influence on the climate and our health, coal has a lesser-known positive side to its otherwise dark soul. It has provided us with some stunning fossils.