A new study has found that the first flower to ever grow on our planet bloomed underwater, in Spain, about 130 million years ago.
A team of paleontologists from various European countries have looked at more than 1.000 fossil remains and concluded that the Montsechia Vidalii is as old as the dinosaurs, which makes it the world’s first plant to ever produce flowers.
Its discovery may revolutionize current theories in the scientific community, as the researchers working on the study wrote that “Because it is so ancient and is totally aquatic, [it] raises questions centered on the very early evolutionary history of flowering plants”.
Indeed, it’s important to know that plants have only recently started blooming flowers. In the distant past, they used to reproduce without needing to grow petaled lures to attract nectar-seeking insects.
Donald Les, field expert from the University of Connecticut, was not involved in the study but aggress with its findings. He gave a statement saying that the world went through very dynamic biological processes 120 million years ago. It was during that time that flowering plants emerged and established themselves as “the dominant global floristic element”.
It was a “transformative event that ultimately altered the character of the entire planet”. So naturally, evolutionary biologists and paleontologists have long been intrigued and fascinated by the quick rise of the angiosperms. They’re always tried to find underlying explanations for the successful radiation of these plants.
But previous studies have been inconclusive because researchers have found it hard to come up with answers without knowing what the earliest plant species looked and behaved like. Without this information, field experts are unable to understand how plants changed over time.
Les went on to add that the amazing technological advances made in recent years in bioinformatics, genomics and genetics have helped plant researches tremendously with their work in these past few decades, but despite all of this, their “comprehension of life on Earth during such ancient times continues to rely primarily on” the fossil record, one single data source.
And while the new study has labeled the Montsechia Vidalii the oldest flowering plant on our planet, fact is the researchers don’t know when a another species may prove to be even older than this one.
Before this study was published, the Archaefructus Sinensis, an aquatic plant that grows in China, was believed to be the oldest flowering plant on our planet.
Field experts can’t even agree on whether the oldest flowering plant used to grow on land or on water. While the Montsechia Vidalii grew underwater, some specialists say that the first flowering plant may have grown on land, in darkened forest habitats.
This theory can not be dismissed due to the fact that very few of modern day flowering plants are aquatic species – only around 2% of angiosperms – and most plant researches agree that aquatic angiosperms derived from terrestrial plants.
The findings were published in the most recent issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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