Plant conserved noncoding sequences (CNSs)--a specific category of phylogenetic footprint--have been shown experimentally to function. No plant CNS is conserved to the extent that ultraconserved noncoding sequences are conserved in vertebrates. Plant CNSs are enriched in known transcription factor or other cis-acting binding sites, and are usually clustered around genes. Genes that encode transcription factors and/or those that respond to stimuli are particularly CNS-rich. Only rarely could this function involve small RNA binding. Some transcribed CNSs encode short translation products as a form of negative control. Approximately 4% of Arabidopsis gene content is estimated to be both CNS-rich and occupies a relatively long stretch of chromosome: Bigfoot genes (long phylogenetic footprints). We discuss a 'DNA-templated protein assembly' idea that might help explain Bigfoot gene CNSs.