130-mil­lion-year-old plant is among ‘first flow­ers’: study

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

An an­cient plant that grew un­der­wa­ter in what is mod­ern day Europe, had no petals and bore one sin­gle seed may have been the world’s first known flow­er­ing plant, a study said Mon­day.

More than 1,000 fos­sils of the plant, called Montsechia vi­dalii, were pored over for the new study, which seems to oust a Chi­nese plant that has also been con­sid­ered among the first.

“A ‘first flower’ is tech­ni­cally a myth, like the ‘first hu­man,’” said pa­le­ob­otanist David Dilcher, lead au­thor of the study pub­lished in the Pro­ceed­ings of the Na­tional Academy of Sciences, a peer­re­viewed U.S. jour­nal.

“But based on this new anal­y­sis, we know now that Montsechia is con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous, if not more an­cient, than Ar­chae­fruc­tus ( sinen­sis),” a sim­i­lar aquatic plant found in China.

Sci­en­tists have known about Montsechia vi­dalii for a long time. Its fos­sils were first dis­cov­ered more than a cen­tury ago in the lime­stone de­posits of the Ibe­rian Range in cen­tral Spain and in the Montsec Range of the Pyre­nees.

But Dilcher said many of the fos­sils were mis­in­ter­preted, be­cause 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 plant, which may have looked like sea­weed that grew in fresh­wa­ter, con­tains a sin­gle seed, which is the defin­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic of a flow­er­ing plant, or an­giosperm.

They date to 125-130 mil­lion years ago, around the same time as di­nosaurs such as the iguan­odon and bra­chiosaurus roamed the Earth, the study added.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.