Researchers have found the first examples of flower buds in 164 million-year-old plant fossils in China. This discovery greatly encourages the emergence of flowering plants in Indonesia era jurassic, between 145 million and 201 million years ago.
The fossil, found in China’s Inner Mongolia region, is 1.7 inches (4.2 cm) long and 0.8 inches (2 cm) wide. It has stems, leafy twigs, round fruit, and small flower buds measuring about 3 millimeters square. 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 buds and fruit in the fossil are both clear indications of this F. Jurassica It was angiosperms rather than gymnosperms, which were the dominant plant type during the Jurassic period. So far, fossil evidence suggests that angiosperms did not even appear lime period, between 66 million and 145 million years ago, but the new fossils are the most convincing evidence to date that this is not the case.
“Many ancient botanists are amazed [by the fossil]Because it is very different from what is written in the book,” 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. one of.”
The new fossil is not the oldest example of a fossil flower ever found. In 2018, in a study published in eLife, the researchers described a 174-million-year-old flower of a plant in the genus Nanjinganthus, also located in China, Live Science previously reported.
However, some researchers have questioned whether Nanjinganthus It can actually be considered an angiosperm as the flowers are not complex enough to distinguish it from the leaf structure seen in gymnosperms, ScienceAlert Laporan report. The flowers are also very delicate and difficult to petrify, Wang said, making them difficult to distinguish from other plant materials.
But the flower buds and fruits in the new fossils prove it beyond doubt F. Jurassica He must have said it was an angiosperm. Therefore, the fossils “confirm the existence of angiosperms in the Jurassic and require a rethinking of the evolution of angiosperms,” the researchers said. write in statement.
Wang believes that many other plant genera are known from the Jurassic period, including NanjinganthusAnd gurahirpaAnd johaniaAnd guarafrutusAnd Xingxueanthus And schnitzelIt could be an angiosperm, but he says there’s no way to be sure without fossil evidence. Until recently, scientists had only assumed that this genus was gymnosperms because they date back to the Jurassic period.
However, if angiosperms existed during the Jurassic period, they would be very rare compared to gymnosperms and geographically isolated, making it impossible to find other well-preserved examples of flower buds, he said.
Or, maybe too F. Jurassica This may be one of the first evolutionary relationships between ancient angiosperm-like plants, such as NanjinganthusTrue angiosperms were discovered only recently in the Cretaceous period, Wang said.
The study was published online on January 6 in the journal Geological Society of London.
Originally published in Live Science.