Flowers are Mother Nature’s gift to the world. They smell good and are beautiful regardless of their shape and size. They even bestowed us the unique sweet taste of honey! But have you wondered how did the first ever flower looked like?
As early as the 19th century, scientists have already been curious of the evolutionary history of flowering plants. Charles Darwin even described these plants as an “abominable mystery” for they outnumbered the more ancient seed-bearing trees (9 out of 10 plants were flowering) despite evolving later than such ancient plants.
And though scientists have discovered the fossil of the earliest known flowering plant dating at 130 million years old, they hypothesized that flowering plants appeared even much earlier, around 250 and 140 million years ago.
So, to guess what the first flower might look like, researchers from around the world made a model of the flower using the largest data set of floral traits ever assembled. They've utilized almost every type of flowering plants.
“We looked at the big bang of flowering plant evolution when they first evolved,” says Hervé Sauquet of the University of Paris-South, France and lead author of the study. And with this, they've created a masterpiece. The result looks like a combination of magnolias, buttercups and laurels but this flower is certainly not like any other flowers present today.
“We reconstruct the ancestral angiosperm flower as bisexual and radially symmetric, with more than two whorls of three separate perianth organs each (undifferentiated tepals), more than two whorls of three separate stamens each, and more than five spirally arranged separate carpels,” the researchers wrote in their study. It had 11 or more stamens and tepals, and may have been around one centimetre or less in size.
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