Conifers’ helicoptering seeds are result of long evolutionary experiment

Whirling seeds are produced by many plants today, such as maples, but the first to try them were the conifers 270 million years ago. Fossils reveal that those early conifers had winged seeds of various designs to aid seed dispersal, while today’s conifers use only one design. A paleobotanist experimented with models of winged seeds to explain why conifers jettisoned less efficient whirlers and settled on the best: those with one wing.