Not a biology student so forgive me if this is a very basic question. Are flowering plants (angiosperms) vital to all (or most) life on Earth?

In other words, if flowering plants disappeared, would all (or most) life on this planet be gone as a result?

To give a bit more context, I'm arguing with a friend who claims (from a biblical perspective) that without flowering plants life couldn't exist.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm curious, what is this biblical argument that life can't exist without flowers? (if you know) $\endgroup$ – Ixrec May 17 '15 at 0:13

Angiosperms -- that is, flowering plants -- only evolved relatively recently on an evolutionary timescale, about 125 millions years ago. So for most of the history of life on earth there have been no flowering plants. Thus it seems highly likely that if angiosperms were to suddenly disappear, life on earth would continue. There might be a massive disruption of current terrestrial communities, but it's hard to imagine this resulting in total global extinction. In particular it seems unlikely that ocean communities would be undermined by the loss of flowering plants.

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  • $\begingroup$ To put that in context, the earliest life dates from at least 3 billion years ago (from stromatolite evidence). Of course, some Christians may dispute that the earth was around even 125 million years ago, so this argument probably doesn't hold in the face of such claims. $\endgroup$ – Sparhawk May 17 '15 at 10:28

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