Researchers have discovered the first example of a flower bud in a 164-million-year-old plant fossil in China. This discovery strongly pushes the emergence of flowering plants in Jurassic العصر, between 145 million and 201 million years ago.
The fossil, which was discovered in the Inner Mongolia region of China, is 1.7 inches (4.2 cm) long and 0.8 inches (2 cm) wide. It has a stem, leafy twig, bulbous fruit, and a small flower bud about 3 square millimeters in size. The researchers named the new species Florigerminis Jurassica.
There are two main types of plants: flowering plants, known as angiosperms, and non-flowering plants, known as gymnosperms. The flower bud and the fruit in the fossil are both clear indications of this F. Jurassica It was angiosperms rather than gymnosperms, which was the dominant type of plant during the Jurassic period. So far, fossil evidence has shown that angiosperms did not even arise cretaceous period, between 66 million and 145 million years ago, but the new fossil is the most compelling evidence to date that this was not the case.
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“Many ancient botanists are amazed [by the fossil]Because it’s very different from what is stated in the books,” senior author Shen Wang, a researcher at the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NIGPAS), told Live Science in an email. But I’m not surprised either.”
The new fossil is not the oldest example of a fossilized flower ever discovered. In 2018, in a study published in eLife, researchers described 174 million-year-old flowers from a plant in the genus Nanjinganthus, also located in China, Live Science previously reported.
However, some researchers have questioned whether Nanjinganthus It can truly be considered angiosperms because the flowers were not complex enough to distinguish them from the leafy structures seen in gymnosperms, ScienceAlert reported. The flowers are also very delicate and hard to petrify, Wang said, making them difficult to distinguish from other plant matter.
But the flower bud and fruit in the new fossil prove it without a doubt F. Jurassica He certainly said it was angiosperms. The fossil therefore “confirms the presence of angiosperms in the Jurassic and requires a rethinking of angiosperm evolution,” the researchers said. wrote in a statement.
Wang believes that many other known plant genera from the Jurassic period, including NanjinganthusAnd GurahirpaAnd johaniaAnd guarafrutusAnd Xingxueanthus And schnitzelIt could be angiosperms, but he says there’s no way to be sure without fossil evidence. Until now, scientists had just assumed that these genera were gymnosperms because they originated in the Jurassic period.
However, if angiosperms existed during the Jurassic period, they would be very uncommon compared to gymnosperms and geographically isolated, making finding similar well-preserved examples of other flower buds unlikely, he said.
Alternatively, it is also possible that F. Jurassica It may be one of the first evolutionary links between ancient angiosperm-like plants, such as NanjinganthusThe true angiosperms were recently found in the Cretaceous period, Wang said.
The study was published online January 6 in the journal The Geological Society of London.
Originally published on Live Science.