Scientists have identified a fossil plant species that suggests flowers bloomed in the Early Jurassic, more than 174 million years ago. Till now, angiosperms (flowering plants) were thought to have a history of no more than 130 million years.
The discovery of the novel flower species, which the researchers named Nanjinganthus dendrostyla, throws widely accepted theories of plant evolution into question, by suggesting that they existed around 50 million years earlier.
Nanjinganthus also has a variety of ‘unexpected’ characteristics according to almost all of these theories. Angiosperms are an important member of the plant kingdom, and their origin has been the topic of long-standing debate among evolutionary biologists.
The research team in China studied 264 specimens of 198 individual flowers preserved on 34 rock slabs from the South Xiangshan Formation — an outcrop of rocks in the Nanjing region of China renowned for bearing fossils from the Early Jurassic epoch.