Angiosperms may be distinguished from their gymnosperm peers by their flowers, and thus a flower is a good proxy of fossil angiosperms. However, flowers and their parts are usually too frail to be preserved in the fossil record. This makes the origin of angiosperms and their flowers the foci of controversy in botany.
Eliminating such botanical controversies can only be achieved by studying related plant fossils. Recently, Prof. WANG Xin from the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NIGPAS), in collaboration with scientists from South China Agricultural University, document a fossil flower bud, Florigerminis jurassica gen. et sp. nov., from the Jurassic of Inner Mongolia, China. This is the earliest fossil record of flower buds in the world so far.
Their findings were published by The Geological Society of London.
WANG Xin says, "this fossil includes not only a leafy branch but also physically connected fruit and flower bud." The developmentally interpolated existence of a blooming flower between the flower bud and mature fruit in Florigerminis suggests that angiosperm flowers were present in the Jurassic, in agreement with recent botanical progress.
Previous plant fossils were often preserved fragmentarily, leading paleobotanists to consider them as belonging to different plants. This Florigerminis jurassica underscores the presence of angiosperms in the Jurassic and demands a rethinking of angiosperm evolution.
This research was supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program (B) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.
Reference: Da-Fang Cui, Yemao Hou, Pengfei Yin, Xin Wang, 2022. A Jurassic flower bud from China. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 521, https://doi.org/10.1144/SP521-2021-122.
Florigerminis jurassica gen. et sp. nov and its details
LIU Yun, Propagandist
Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Nanjing, Jiangsu 210008, China