According to the Bible, photosynthetic organisms formed early in Earth's history, before marine animals and before land animals. On Day 3 the Bible speaks of the ground causing 'vegetation' to form. But did this 'vegetation' include single-celled organisms, cyanobacteria, plankton, or was it just plantlike organisms growing in the ground? There are various ways to interpret the Day 3 passage in Genesis 1. My own preferred interpretation is that it is speaking of photosynthetic organisms actually growing on or in the ground. So, that would include some forms of plankton, algae, and fungi.
It looks like it is certain from the fossil record that photosynthetic life formed long before sea animals. But, the idea that this kind of life was colonizing the land way before sea creatures is still uncertain, though it appears that the evidence is mounting.
- Large bacterial colonized land 2.75 Ba
Photosynthesizing bacteria appears to have been growing on land at least 2 billion years before sea animals formed. This confirms the Bible's account that 'vegetation' (in the widest sense) formed before the creatures in the waters.
- Greening of Earth pushed way back in time
Evidence for plant-like organisms growing up from the ground before 500 Ma has been lacking. However, now there is some evidence that a simple photosynthesizing fungus anchored in the ground was growing as far back as 2.2 Ba. By most anyone's interpretation, this form of life would qualify as 'vegetation' as described in Gen. 1:9-13. (Remember, the word for "grass" in Gen. 1:11 is more literally just a "sprout" of any kind. It seems to only signify something growing in the ground.)
This organism would likely have produced spores, as typical fungi do. This, in my opinion, would qualify as the "seed" producing "shoots" mentioned for Day 3 in the Bible. The Bible does not pretend to use the technical biology terms that we use today. Though spores would not today be considered technically seeds, the term "spore" actually comes from a Greek word meaning "seed," and there is no reason to believe that the ancient Hebrew word for "seed" would not have included spores.
- Ediacaran fossils may have been land lichen and other ‘vegetation’ [542-635 Ma]
As I have suspected for some time, the Ediacaran fossils may potentially be fossils of land organisms rather than sea organisms. These strange organisms were some 20-80 million years before the Cambrian Explosion. Now some scientist(s) are questioning these Ediacaran fossils based on new analysis of the soils represented in the fossils. There is now good reason to think that at least some of these living things were terrestrial, plant-like organisms.
- Origin of flowering plants pushed back ~100 million years earlier [~250 Ma]
The Bible also mentions fruit-bearing plants forming on Day 3, though the Hebrew wording seems to allow for this to have been a process that was only started without a completion on that Creation Day. So, apparently there is now evidence that flowering/fruit-producing plants were already forming as early as 250 Ma. What appears to be pollen has been found dating to about 250 Ma (the Triassic). This is before birds, mammals, or even the vast majority of modern sea creatures.
This helps add strength to the validity of the Bible's chronology for the formation of living things.