The world's oldest petrified flower bud could solve Charles Darwin's 'abominable mystery': 130 million year old discovery suggests that flowering plants evolved tens of thousands of years earlier than previously thought
- A 130 million year old petrified flower bud has been discovered in China
- The flower bud is the oldest known ever and could solve Charles Darwin's 'abominable mystery'
- Darwin was amazed at how and when flowering plants evolved
- This specimen could be the transitional stage that finally answers Darwin's riddle
A 130-million-year-old petrified flower bud found in China may solve Charles Darwin's 'abominable mystery', which questioned when and how the first flowering plants evolved.
The fossil includes a leaf branch, physically connected fruit and flower bud, suggesting that there were plant-seeded plants in the Jurassic period (201.3 million to 145 million years ago).
Angiosperms are plants that have flowers and produce seeds.
This specimen, which is the oldest recorded, was discovered at an occurrence dated more than 164 million years ago and could be the transitional stage that finally answers Darwin's riddle.
A 130 million-year-old petrified flower bud found in China may solve Charles Darwin's 'abominable mystery', which questioned when and how the first flowering plants evolved
The abominable mystery of the famous naturalist was first brought to light in 1879.
In a letter to his closest friend, botanist and explorer Dr. Joseph Hooker, he wrote: 'The rapid evolution, as far as we can judge all the higher plants in recent geological times, is an abominable mystery.'
Flowering plants appeared on Earth relatively recently on a geological time scale, and then rapidly diversified into an explosion of color, shape, and form.
Many fossils that could be the answer have been discovered, but further studies show that they were not a true angiosperm.
In a letter to his closest friend, botanist and explorer Dr. Joseph Hooker, wrote Charles Darwin (pictured): 'The rapid evolution, as far as we can judge all the higher plants in recent geological times, is an abominable mystery
Pictured is a map showing the location of Inner Mongolia, China, where the fossil was discovered
However, the petrified flower bud, called Florigerminis jurassica, meets the criteria.
The ancient plant is described as having woody branches with nodes, an area on the stem where buds are located, physically connected fruit and a flower bud ending on the branch.
It also has several leaves with smooth edge that enclose the middle tightly.
"Although over 100 flowering flowers of Nanjinganthus exemplify the true existence of angiosperms in the Jurassic, our current knowledge of early angiosperms is still sparse," reads the study, published in the Geological Society, London, Special Publications.
'Here we report on Florigerminis jurassica, a fossil plant including physically connected flower buds, fruits and leaf branches, from the Jiulongshan formation (Middle Jurassic:> 164 Ma) in Inner Mongolia, China.'
The fossil includes a leaf branch, physically connected fruit and flower bud, suggesting that there were plant-seeded plants in the Jurassic period (201.3 million to 145 million years ago)
The plant tissues are preserved in yellowish stone made of volcanic ash that was thrown out during an eruption, and its leaves have since fallen off, leaving only their scars embedded in the deposit.
'According to Darwinism and group comparison, well-differentiated perianth is thought to be derived and not expected for pioneer angiosperms, but this mindset is now challenged by the presence of well-differentiated perianth in Jurassic Euanthus [discovered in 2016] and Nanjinganthus [discovered in 2018], 'according to the study.
Both Jurrassic Euanthus and Nanjinganthus have similar properties to modern flowering plants, but many experts claim that they are not true angiosperms.
'The unexpected occurrence of flowers such as Florigerminis, Euanthus and Nanjinganthus, all from jurisprudence, suggests that the related theories of angiosperm evolution lack the predictability required for a scientific theory,' reads the study.
WHAT IS AN ANGIOSPERM?
Angiosperm is the scientific term for flowering plants.
There are thought to be well over 350,000 species of angiosperm, and there is a huge diversity among the species'.
Angiosperms are a phylum that includes over 400 families and 350.00 plant species, all of which have similar characteristics.
Before the advent of angiosperms, gymnosperms and ferns were the dominant plant groups, but angiosperms quickly established themselves as the most successful group in the plant kingdom.
Gymnosperms evolved before flowering and existed in the time of the dinosaurs. They produce seeds as well as small drops of high-energy liquid.
Ferns do not have flowers and have a more primitive form of reproduction than angiosperms and gymnosperms
The reason for the enormous diversity of flowers has often been attributed to the co-evolution of animals and plants that helped with reproduction.
Research from San Francisco State University has found that stomata - cells that control gas exchange in plants - are much smaller in angiosperms than any other type of plant.
Angiosperms have more venation than other types of plants, and this encourages greater transpiration rates (water transfer), photosynthesis, and growth.
Flowering plants were the only type of plants that underwent a rapid cut of the genome in the early Cretaceous period, allowing the decrease in cell size.