164 Million Year Old Fossil Changes Everything We Know About Plant Evolution

According to the scientists, the revelation changes our understanding of angiosperm development. Scientists have discovered the oldest form of a flowering plant in a 164 million year old botanical specimen in China.

The discovery of a 164 million year old plant fossil in China

(Photo: Photo by JACK TAYLOR/AFP via Getty Images)
A woman walks through a field of sunflowers at Wachirabenchathat park in Bangkok on January 20, 2022.

The discovery places the origin of angiosperms firmly in the Jurassic era, around 145 to 201 million years old.

The specimen, which the expert assigns the title of Florigerminis jurassica to the distinct variety, measures 1.7 inches long and 0.8 inches (2 cm) wide and was discovered in the region of China’s Hunan province.

It has a stem, a leafy branch, a spherical berry and a small flower bud measuring about 3 square millimeters.

Plants are classified into two varieties where are flowering plants or angiosperms and other is gymnosperms or flowerless plants.

All of the flower petals and fruits in the specimen are significant indications that F. Jurassica was a flowering plant, not really a gymnosperm, the main botanical type in the Jurassic period.

the new specimen found provides the most compelling indication yet that flowering plants appeared somewhat back then, as historical data suggests that flowering plants did not appear until around the Cretaceous era, there is approximately 66 to 145 million years old.

A scientist from the Nanjing Department of Geology and Paleontology (NIGPAS) of the Chinese Institute of Science and lead author Xin Wang explained in a post that “many paleobotanists are amazed by the specimen, as it is extremely unique compared to to what is mentioned in the literature”. .”

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Newly Discovered Plant Fossil Shows Indication of the Evolution of Flowering Plants

The newly found specimen may not be the oldest petrified inflorescence specimen yet known.

Experts identified 174-million-year-old flowers from a shrub in the Nanjinganthus plant family, which also occurs in China, in an article published in eLife in 2018.

Nevertheless, other experts have doubted that Nanjinganthus is truly a flowering plant because the flowers were not sufficiently developed to separate from the leafy formations of gymnosperms.

According to wang, the flowers are also incredibly fragile and difficult to decompose naturally, making it difficult to distinguish them from other plant matter.

However, the flower bud and fruit of the discovered specimen unequivocally establish that F. Jurassica was definitely a flowering plant, he said.

As for investigators, the specimen serves to highlight the prevalence of flowering plants in the Jurassic and invites a reassessment of the evolution of flowering plants.

Although there is no method that determines the absence of archaeological remains, Wang argues that many other recognized Jurassic botanical taxa, such as Schmeissneria, Yuhania, Jurafructus, Nanjinganthus, Xingxueanthus, and Juraherba, could also be members of the kind.

Experts had previously concluded that these taxa were gymnosperms since they evolved during the Jurassic period.

Nevertheless, if fruiting bodies existed throughout the Jurassic, they would also have been extremely rare unlike gymnosperms and sparsely populated, making it extremely difficult to find well-preserved comparable specimens of certain flower buds.

It is also conceivable that F. Jurassica may be one of the original and earliest developmental links between ancient angiosperm-like species, including some Nanjinganthus, and more modern true fruiting bodies discovered around the time of the Cretaceous.

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