An unexpected flower from the Jurassic of China (eLIFE)

The economic importance of angiosperms, whether for food, ornamentals, timber, pharmaceuticals, or any other commercial product is easy to prove. However, their origin is not. Evolutionary biologists have long debated the origin of flowering plants. Fu et al., have unearthed fossils from the Early Jurassic period that suggest angiosperms may have been here longer than we previously thought. Previously available fossil flowers appeared about 125 million years ago in the Cretaceous era, during which many pollinators also emerged, although, genetic analysis has suggested that flowering plants are much older. Now Fu et al. have located 264 specimens of 198 individual flowers in South Xiangshan Formation that suggest that flowers bloomed in the Early Jurassic, more than 174 million years ago. They describe a fossil flower, Nanjinganthus dendrostyla gen. et sp. Nov.. with a cup-form receptacle and ovarian roof that together enclose the ovules/seeds, consistent with the defining characteristics of an angiosperm. (Summary by Katie Rogers) eLIFE 10.7554/eLife.38827