World’s Oldest Flower Is Probably Found

Posted: Aug 17 2015, 10:10pm CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News


World’s Oldest Flower Is Probably Found
Courtesy of Indiana University Bloomington

A new study suggest that "Montsechia Vidalii" can be the mythical "first flower" on earth. The conclusion is based on the careful analysis of plant's 1,000 fossil remains

Indiana University scientists have discovered a 130 million old aquatic plant which they identify as mythical “First Flower.”

“Montsechia Vidalii" is a plant that grew in freshwater lakes in Spain and reproduces below the surface of water. The fossils of the plant were first discovered more than 100 years ago in central Spain.

The stem and leaf structure of the plant were obtained from a stone by pouring drop by drop hydrochloric acid on it. The protective layer which covers leaves was also carefully bleached with a chemical mixture. The close examination of more than 1,000 fossil remains of Montsechia suggested that this plant could be the “First Flower” of the world. Previously, China native “Archaefructus sinensis” was considered as one of the earliest flowers found on earth. 

“A ‘first flower’ is technically a myth, like the ‘first human’, said David L. Dilcher, the lead author of the study. “But based on the new analysis, we now know that Montsechia is contemporaneous, if not more ancient, than Archaefrutus.”

Because Montsechia is “so ancient and is totally aquatic, the new findings may lead to groundbreaking information on the evolution of angiosperms, the flowering plants that grow on land

“This discovery raises significant questions about the early evolutionary history of flowering plants, as well as the role of these plants in the evolution of other plant and animal life.” Dilcher, an expert on angiosperm anatomy and morphology,  said.

The fossil material has been misunderstood earlier because no obvious flowering plants like characteristics were found in it. But new careful analysis provided new details about the plant. The plant is 125 million to 130 million years old, which makes it the contemporary of dinosaurs. 

“Montsechia possesses no obvious “flower parts”, such as petals or nectar producing structure for attracting insects, and lives out its entire life cycle under water. The fruit contains a single seed – the defining characteristic of an angiosperm – which is borne upside down.”

Donald H. Les, professor of ecology at University of Connecticut said. “The reinterpretation of these fossils provides a fascinating new perspective on a major mystery in plant biology.  David’s work is truly an important contribution to the continued quest to unravel the evolutionary and ecological events that accompanied the rise of flowering plants to global prominence."   

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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