Conifers' Helicoptering Seeds are the Result of a Long Evolutionary Experiment

The whirling, winged seeds of today's conifers are an engineering wonder and, as University of California, Berkeley, scientists show, a result of about 270 million years of evolution by trees experimenting with the best way to disperse their seeds.

"Winged seeds may have contributed to the success of these conifers," said paleobotanist Cindy Looy, an assistant professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley, a member of the Berkeley Initiative for Global Change Biology (BiGCB) and a curator with UC Berkeley's Museum of Paleontology.