First flower? Scientists discover 130-million-year old plant

First flower? Scientists discover 130-million-year old plant

The Montsechia plant bloomed underwater in the time of the dinosaurs.

Fossils can be flowers too. Scientists have learned that a long-noted underwater organism called Montsechia may actually have been the first blooming plant.

As explained by the Indiana University News, scientists have been aware of the Montsechia, a free-spreading underwater plant found on multiple fossils from the freshwater lakes of northeastern Spain, for over a hundred years. However, a team of paleobotanists lead by Bernard Gomez of France has now come to the conclusion that the plant is in fact the earliest example ever of a flower.

Having studied thousands of fossils, the scientists have been able to determine that, living underwater, the Montsechia did not bloom like a sunflower or a rose. It did, however, become pollinated by seeds enclosed by fruits, qualifying it as an angiosperm, or, in layman’s words, a flower.

This discovery sheds light on the earliest evolution of plants. Indiana University’s David Dilcher said that, “’A first flower’ is technically a myth, like ‘the first human.’” However, any information about the ancestry of our current plants illuminates new details about how photosynthesis and ecological trends.

At roughly 130 million years old, the Montsechia existed during the Cretaceous period, making it neighbor to dinosaurs such as the iguanodon and brachiosaurus.

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