Scientists have discovered two fossilized flowers in the tropical forest of the Cordillera Septentrional mountain range of the Dominican Republic, and they have been preserved in amber for the past 30 million years according to a finding published in the journal Nature Plants - Discovery reports.
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The flowers are named Strychnos electri and belong to a family of poisonous plants used to make strychnine and curare, two toxic substances used to make paralyzing poison darts and to paralyze animals or people. The discovered flowers are also of the genus asterids under which tobacco, basil, mint, tomato plants, and coffee trees among others fall.
“Species of the genus Strychnos are almost all toxic in some way,” George Poinar Jr., an amber expert at Oregon State University, said in a statement. “Each plant has its own alkaloids with varying effects. Some are more toxic than others, and it may be that they were successful because their poisons offered some defense against herbivores.”
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Scientists cannot readily confirm the level of toxicity of these fossilized plants since they were preserved in tree resin within a steamy tropical forest for millions of years. And it must be pointed out that scientists have found a number of prehistoric life specimens in tree resin which have become hardened to preserve life, enabling scientists to have recovered locusts, wasps, beetles, ticks, and blood-sucking flies preserved in nature and suspended in time.