True Identity of Extinct Prehistoric Flower Uncovered by Scientists
The researchers deduced the likely identity of the flower after noticing a similarity between its pollen and that of species from a particular family of plants.
The real nature of a specimen of a flower from millions of years ago whose fossilized remains managed to “survive” till this day has finally been determined by researchers from the Natural History Museum in Berlin and the University of Vienna.
The flower, trapped in a blob of amber, was originally found over 150 years ago in an area near the Baltic Sea that eventually became part of Russia’s Kaliningrad region, and was initially described in 1872 as Stewartia kowalewskii, a now-extinct flowering evergreen.
Having examined the flower in detail, the authors of a new study published in the Scientific Reports journal last week postulated that the flower belongs to a different genus since the analysis of the pollen extracted from the specimen they worked with “revealed strong affinities to Asian species of Symplocos (Symplocaceae), prompting the new combination Symplocos kowalewskii.”
“We have been able to show that the specimen actually belongs to the Symplocos genus, which is a different family – the sweet leaf family,” Eva Maria Sadowski from the Natural History Museum, one of the authors of the study, said as quoted by media.
“This fossil represents the first record of Symplocaceae from Baltic amber and supports affinities of its flora to evergreen broadleaved and mixed mesophytic forests of present-day East and Southeast Asia,” the researchers noted.
The flower the researchers examined apparently ended up trapped in tree resin over 30 million years ago and, remarkably, was preserved with all of its parts intact.