The flowers, these fleeting beauties … or not so much? What do you think of a flower that will last for years? And how about millions of years? It’s what Oregon State University researchers found. The flower of a hundred million years ago. Of course, it is preserved in amber. It is a great example of the Middle Cretaceous Period.
An old forest
“It’s a beauty. Especially when you consider it was part of a forest that existed 100 million years ago,” said George Poinar Jr., a professor emeritus at the OSU School of Science (Oregon State University). The results were published in the Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas.
“The male flower is tiny, about 2 millimeters wide. But it has about 50 stamens arranged like a spiral with their anthers pointing towards the sky, “said Poinar in a statement. He is an international expert on the use of amber-preserved flora and fauna.
A stamen consists of an anther, the pollen-producing head, and a filament, the stem, which connects the anthers to the flower. “Even though it’s so small, the detail that remains is amazing,” said Poinar. ‘Our specimen was probably part of a group in the plant that contained many similar flowers. Some may be female ».
The new discovery has a hollow, egg-shaped flower bowl. The outer layer is made up of six petal-shaped components known as tepals. Poinar named the new flower Valviloculus pleristaminis. The flower was wrapped in amber on the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana. It was transported about 6,000 kilometers across the ocean from Australia to Southeast Asia on a continental plate.
Other flowers in amber
There is debate about when this piece of land known as the West Burma Block was separated from Gondwana. Some believe it was 200 million years ago. However, others claim it was more than 500 million years ago.
Numerous angiosperm flowers have been discovered in Burmese amber. The hundred million year old flower is one of them. Angiosperms are vascular plants with stems, roots and leaves with eggs that fertilize and develop within the flower.
Angiosperms only evolved and diversified about 100 million years ago. Therefore, the West Burma Block could not have separated from Gondwana earlier, said Poinar.
But that’s all anecdotal. The hundred million year old flower has watched our planet evolve from its amber prison. And its beauty has remained intact despite the time.