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World's Oldest Flower Grew in Fresh Waters of Spain 130M Years Ago

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By    |   Wednesday, 19 Aug 2015 08:18 AM

The world's oldest flowering species of plant was previously thought to be land-based, but a new discovery suggests it likely grew in water.

Newsweek reported that Indiana University paleobotanist David Dilcher and his international team of scientists have dated a fossil of Montsechia vidalii as far back as 130 million years — to the Cretaceous period.

"It's a very, very early experiment or divergence in the sexual reproduction of flowering plants," Dilcher told Live Science, Yahoo News reported.

Fossils of Montsechia were first found in limestone deposits in Spain over a century ago, however no one had ever systematically examined the whole species.

That means that Dilcher and his team had more than 1,000 fossils to work with, and they painstakingly dripped hydrochloric acid onto the fossilized plants to coax their leaves from their rocky tombs. As it turns out, the Montsechia is in fact an angiosperm, meaning it has flowers.

"Montsechia possesses no obvious 'flower parts', such as petals or nectar-producing structures 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," said Dilcher.

According to The Express U.K., the dating revealed that Montsechia was a few million years older than Archaefructus sinensis, the previous record holder, which grew in water in the China region.

"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 continued.

"A 'first flower' is technically a myth, like the 'first human'. But based on this new analysis, we know now that Montsechia is contemporaneous, if not more ancient, than Archaefructus."

Dilcher and his teams scientific study was published August 17 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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The world's oldest flowering species of plant was previously thought to be land-based, but a new discovery suggests it likely grew in water.
worlds, oldest, flower, spain
308
2015-18-19
Wednesday, 19 Aug 2015 08:18 AM
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