Saturday, August 29, 2015

First Flower

Intact specimen of
the fossil montsechia
Photo by
Bernard Gomez
Paleobotanists have identified an extremely early aquatic flowering plant montsechia vidalii in its fossilized form.

The 125 to 130 million-year-old fossil provides a record of one of earliest known flowering plants on Earth ― a mythical first flower present during the age of dinosaurs.
"A 'first flower' is technically a myth, like the 'first human,'"
David Dilcher, Paleobotanist
Montsechia has the rudimentary characteristics of a flowering plant, also known as an angiosperm.
"Montsechia possesses no obvious ‘flower parts,’ such as petals or nectar-producing structures for attracting insects, and lived out its entire life cycle under water. The fruit contains a single seed which is borne upside down."
David Dilcher
Montsechia produced seeds within a carpal, the female reproductive organ of a flower. Carpals are a component of the gynoecium which is the term that describes the parts of a flowing plant that develop into the fruit and seeds. Gynoecium is a composite word from the Greek words gyne, meaning woman, and oikous, meaning house.
"There’s still much to be discovered about how a few early species of seed-bearing plants eventually gave rise to the enormous, and beautiful, variety of flowers that now populate nearly every environment on Earth."
David Dilcher