Oregon State University researchers have identified a spectacular new genus and species of mid-Cretaceous flower, a male whose sunburst range to the sky was frozen in time by Burmese amber.
“This isn’t a real Christmas flower, but it’s a beauty, especially when you consider that it was part of a forest that existed 100 million years ago,” said George Poinar Jr., professor emeritus at the OSU College of Science.
The results were published in the Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas.
“The male flower is tiny, about 2 millimeters wide, but has about 50 stamens that are spirally arranged with their anthers pointing towards the sky,” said Poinar, an international expert on the use of amber-preserved plant and animal forms, to explain more to learn about the biology and ecology of the distant past.
A stamen consists of an anthers – the pollen-producing head – and a filament, the stalk, which connects the anthers to the flower.
“Even though it’s so small, the remaining detail is amazing,” said Poinar. “Our specimen was likely part of a cluster on the plant that contained many similar flowers, some possibly female.”
The new discovery has an egg-shaped, hollow flower bowl – the part of the flower from which the stamens extend; an outer layer made up of six petal-like components known as tepals; and two-chamber anthers with pollen sacs that open via side-hinged valves.
Poinar and staff at OSU and the US Department of Agriculture named the new flower Valviloculus pleristaminis. Valva is the Latin name for the leaf on a folding door, loculus means compartment, plerus refers to many and staminis reflects the dozen of the flower’s male reproductive organs.
The flower was wrapped in amber on the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana and floated on a continental plate about 4,000 miles across the ocean from Australia to Southeast Asia, Poinar said.
Geologists have just discussed when this piece of land – known as the West Burma Block – broke away from Gondwana. Some believe it was 200 million years ago; others claim it was more like 500 million years ago.
Numerous angiosperm flowers have been discovered in Burmese amber, most of which were described by Poinar and a colleague from Oregon State, Kenton Chambers, who also collaborated on this research.
Angiosperms are vascular plants with stems, roots and leaves, with eggs that are fertilized and develop within the flower.
Since angiosperms only developed and diversified about 100 million years ago, the West Burma Bloc could not have broken off Gondwana by then, Poinar said, which is much later than the data suggested by geologists.
Dinganthus sheds new light on the development of flowers
Provided by Oregon State University
Quote: New flower from 100 million years ago brings fresh holiday beauty until 2020 (2020, December 22nd), accessed on December 24th, 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-12-million-years-fresh-holiday- beauty.html
This document is subject to copyright. Except for fair trade for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for informational purposes only.