Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - Very very early spring flower

My old friend and colleague, David Dilcher, has been hard at work digging up fossils in China. So here's a very, very early spring flower, published in March 31 Nature, but aged at 124-123 million years ago in the early Cretaceous. To put this into some context, dinosaurs still reigned and would do so until the event that marks the end of the Cretaceous, a bolid impact on the Yucatan, at 65 million years ago. It bears the name Leefructus mirus, and if you were going to place it in a modern plant family, it would be a buttercup, a member of the Ranunculaceae. The significance of this fossil is that it pushes the evolution of the eudicots back to an earlier time indicating that flowering plant diversity took off early. The flower (center) is in early fruit stage.

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